Before Game released The Documentary in early 2005, it was hard to imagine he’d have as well-received a career he’s had thus far. Label drama and beefs aside, the artist formerly known as The Game has built a formidable discography that few emcees can rival. For someone so inconsistent in his rhetoric, Game has been the model of consistency in music. As a result, expectations run high with Jesus Piece, Game’s last hurrah on Interscope.
JP sets it off with “Scared Now.” Simple and generic from its production to its chorus, the song gets no help from its subject matter, nor from Meek Mill’s easily-identifiable brand of Shout Rap. “Ali Bomaye” is a significant improvement in the production department, with rich productions and epic vocal samples. 2 Chainz and Rick Ross are merely tolerable on the cut (neither brings their best), but Game’s ear for production serves him well here. The album improves quickly, however, with the Kanye West and Common-assisted title track, and “Pray,” featuring J. Cole. “Church” is Game’s attempt to pander to a Southern sound (remember when Fat Joe “switched to southpaw?”), but redeems him on cuts like “Name Me King” and “See No Evil.”
As for the album’s religious theme, Game maintains it throughout Jesus Piece, but rarely does it reach its peak. A special exception is “Hallelujah” ft. Jamie Foxx, where Game hilariously spits about some in-Church indiscretions that seem harmless, but point to bigger issues: “And all this ass in here, how do I focus? / Collection plate bulging damn, pastor, you the coldest / …Yeah I know the chicken good, but your soul ain’t / And your outfit clean, but your nose ain’t / And I suppose that nobody a liar in here / If that were true, the whole church would be on fire in here / I’m sho’ glad we got a choir in here / To wake me up every time I get tired in here.” It’s a shame Game didn’t take the opportunity to explore his opinions or personal experiences with religion on Jesus Piece, given how clear it is that he has strong feelings on the subject.
Nearly a decade into his career, the complaints about Game are well-established, and generally warranted: he’s an incessant name-dropper to the point that it’s distracting, he’s essentially bi-polar with regard to his opinion of 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and a slew of other artists, and he revisits the same subject matter repeatedly. That being said, Game has crafted several outstanding albums through his ability to make extremely judicious use of varied producers (his ear for beats might be second-to-none) and featured guests. On Jesus Piece, these strengths aren’t nearly as prominent. The production is generally strong and memorable, yet inconsistent at times. Where the album really falters is with the features. Listeners can’t help but wonder whether Game sat back, identified Maybach Music Group, Young Money, and G.O.O.D. Music as the hottest crews in the game, and simply decided to pick a few from each. Sure, there’s a lot of talent amongst those lineups, but there’s also a lot of homogeneity. As the features go, so does an album so replete with them.
Jesus Piece ends up being the least compelling release in Game’s storied catalogue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a listen. Either way, Jayceon Taylor can look back at the collection of releases he dropped during his tenure on Interscope and walk away proud.