Many perceive Jayceon Taylor to be the loose cannon of Hip Hop, and they might be right. Equal parts of passion and madness, the trajectory of Game’s career has included serving as the mouthpiece for G-Unit, being the mouthpiece against G-Unit, and preserving Dr. Dre’s often doubted post-Detox legacy. Game’s first three albums possessed different attributes of the West Coast emcee’s personality. The R.E.D. Album is an amalgam of all three, where Game’s penchant for punchy, honest verses proves he has several more miles of music before bowing out.
The album runs a little long in length (almost an hour and a half), with all but four songs having at least one feature. Dr. Dre’s commentary is dispersed throughout, with four short segues detailing Game’s three-plus decades of life.
“The City” opens, where Game speaks candidly about his past label situations (“I was stressed the fuck out, torn between Aftermath, Geffen, Interscope…”) while hinting at future ones (“Either I’m crazy or / The Black Slim Shady or / could that be the reason that Baby said he would pay me more?”). Kendrick Lamar provides a near-spoken word hook before blacking out at the end with what sounds like a pledge of allegiance to Game. While any other rap vet opposite Kendrick would pose a balance of teacher and student, Game’s insatiable hunger on the mic makes it sound like a two-student operation.
The radio-friendly “Drug Test” with Dre, Snoop and Sly oozes mainstream West Coast, but is overshadowed by the double Lil Wayne follow-ups “Martians Vs. Goblins” and “Red Nation”. Weezy provides only the hooks to both, which may be not enough for some, but plenty to others. The shit-talking on “Martians Vs. Goblins” has no limit, with Game suggesting he had sex with Erykah Badu on the set of “Window Seat” (which he calls “that nekkid video shoot”) with lines like “I was suckin’ on that pussy like it was Wonton soup.” OFWGKTA’s Tyler, the Creator chimes in on the track, sending a subtle shot to Chris Brown (“Now my future’s brighter than Christopher’s new haircut”). He even nudges Game with, “And that shit was expected like Jayceon whenever he name drops,” to which Game interjects, “Fuck you, Tyler.”
At times on R.E.D. Game switches the sound of his voice, like on his solo track “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” where he sounds like a gruff Dr. Dre mixed with Biggie. Could it be a personality switch or just a change in tone? Who knows. Other tracks where Game rides dolo include “Ricky,” an ode to Morris Chestnut’s fallen character in Boyz N the Hood. The song begins with an audio clip of the Hood’s fateful scene, but as Game’s voice enters about a minute in, he shoots, “Blood of a slave, heart of a giant / Had to leave Aftermath, Dre said I was too defiant.” The direction of the song is a little confusing, but serves as a podium for Game’s unquestionable honesty.
Features from Rick Ross on “Heavy Artillery” (with Beanie Sigel) and Young Jeezy on “Paramedics” both showcase the rappers spitting like they want a record deal, perhaps to compete with Game’s aforementioned hunger. The exception to that formula is Wale, who on “All the Way Gone” with Mario, chucks the deuces to his old style and glides along in his new MMG-drawl. Nelly Furtado turns soulful on “Mama Knows”, while Chris Brown’s breathy hook on “Pot of Gold” would arrive only second to Drake singing the hook on “Good Girls Go Bad”…if he actually sang it. Drizzy rhymes on the track as the counter-balance of Game discussing the “good” girls and Drake talking the “bad.”
Considering The R.E.D. Album is close to three years in the making, it should be the tight work that it is. Despite its delay, it’s by no means a swan song, contractually and musically. R.E.D. is a lot of many things, only adding to the anticipation already for Game’s final offering to Interscope.