The Game - The Documentary

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Two weeks into the year and it is easily the best album of 05 - and I wouldn't be all that surprised if it is still being called that 11 months from now. A lot of people are going to be playing The Game.

Using his
midas touch production and massive influence, Dr. Dre has launched the careers of many artists. Yet from Snoop to Eminem and all those in between, the good doctor has never broken
an artist from his hometown of Compton.

Enter The Game. The baller turned
blood had barely been rhyming a year when Dre
inked him to his Aftermath
powerhouse. Before long he as the West coast representative of G-Unit and racking up an enemy list as
long as 50's. From Joe Budden, Memph Bleek to Yukmouth, Game has shown a willingness to say whatever he pleases about
whomever he pleases. If there's one thing Dre
knows, it is how to take advantage of controversy.

One listen to The Documentary and
some things become abundantly clear. One of those things is that this project
really means something to Dre, cause
he laced the beats. Such as the 2001
meets Straight Outta Compton single "How
We Do" and "Higher," which is like a heavier "Still D.R.E." with its
repetitious piano stabs. Dre and Scott Storch show their incredible
chemistry yet again on the 50 Cent-assisted
"Westside Story" and the darker "Start From Scratch." Despite the R&B
flavor with the guest appearance from Mary
J. Blidge
, the minimal "Don't Worry" still hits hard. When Dre isn't behind the boards, an A (++)
list of producers fills in. Timbaland
keeps his streak of ridiculous bangers alive with "Put You On The Game," as
does Just Blaze with both "Church
For Thugs" and "No More Fun and Games."

Kanye and Havoc deliver two of the more soulful selections with "Dreams"
and "Don't Need Your Love" respectively. Hi-Tek,
who has been less than impressive in the last year or so, gets his best joint
in years with the sinister "Runnin,'" though the song really could've done
without Yayo's insipid verse. He
also gets a top notch beat from Eminem
on the track "We Ain't," along with a show stealing verse. Even Game admits, "get Dre on the phone quick/tell'em Em just killed me on my own shit."
Yet it is DITC's Buckwild that is
behind the board for albums best song in "Like Father, Like Son": a heartfelt
track that displays Game's
blossoming talents better than any other. Even some of the lesser known names
hold their own, like the standout "Hate It Or Love It" from Cool & Dre or the title track from Jeff Bhasker.

So yeah, the production here is really dope. In fact, it is the best gangsta
rap LP since Dre's own 2001 6 years ago. So how does The Game measure up with this fine
production you ask? Good enough for the most part. A lot of his rhymes are your
typical gangsta posturing, he has some clever lines here and there but for the
most part it isn't anything you haven't heard 1000 times. When he decides to
diversify a bit, he is much more engaging. It can be something simple like his
numbers game on "No More Fun and Games," his touching recount of his son's
birth on "Like Father, Like Son" or his drunken reminiscing about lost friends
on "Start From Scratch."

The Documentary is bound to generate
some criticisms, and it should. He continues the awful tradition of
when-thugs-love (a la "21 Questions," "Karma"), with "Special." The song is
complete with an oh-so-poetic hook "I
want you to know you're special
." While not particularly bad, the beat on "Where
I'm From" does not meet the high standards of the rest of the LP and could have
easily been left off. And while it may seem like nitpicking, his constant
name-dropping gets on the nerves after a few listens - it just needs to go. I
swear he must say Dre's name about
30 times on the album. I'm sure I won't be the only one to say so, but it is
hard not to wish a better emcee got blessed with these beats like, say, Ras Kass - especially when you consider
the absolute lack of dues The Game
has paid to this point. The guy hasn't even been rhyming 2 years, and it isn't
like he that good to warrant the instant superstardom. Still, that doesn't
change how good this album is. Two weeks into the year and it is easily the
best album of 05 - and I wouldn't be all that surprised if it is still being
called that 11 months from now. A lot of people are going to be playing The Game.

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