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The Game has arrived and is here to stay

Kenyatta Storin | Thursday, February 17, 2005

The hits just keep coming for Aftermath. This time it is “The Documentary” – the highly-anticipated debut of Dr. Dre and 50 Cent’s protégé, The Game. Like Dre, The Game hails from Compton, Cali., and like 50 Cent, he is a gangsta rapper with a legitimate “gangsta” background to back it up. After he graduated from high school, The Game got heavily involved in the drug trade, but that all changed when he nearly died after being shot five times. After this near-death experience he decided to turn to rap in 2001, studying classic rap albums like “Ready to Die,” “Doggystyle” and “All Eyez on Me” to help him hone his skills. Eventually all his hard work paid off when his freestyles caught the ear of Dre, leading to his signing with Aftermath in 2003. After several delays, “The Documentary” finally came out at the beginning of this year. And in just three weeks, it has already sold over 1.04 million copies and is currently No. 1 on the Billboard charts.With rap heavyweights like Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent and G-Unit on his side, an aspiring rap star like The Game could not ask for a better situation. Dre pulls out all the stops for him, doing most of the production himself, while getting other well-known producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze and Hi-Tek to help out as well. Along with excellent beats, The Game also benefits from high profile guest appearances by not only 50 Cent and Eminem, but also Nate Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes and Faith Evans. With this kind of support on his side, The Game was basically guaranteed to have a successful album. Lyrically, The Game spends most of the time paying homage to all his rap influences, name-dropping his favorite albums and rappers with alarming regularity. On the title track, he even does a chorus that is made up of seven classic album titles from the 90s: “I’m ‘Ready to Die’ without a ‘Reasonable Doubt’ / Smoke ‘Chronic’ and hit it ‘Doggystyle’ before I go out / Until they sign my ‘Death Certificate’ ‘All Eyez on Me’ / I’m still at it, ‘Illmatic’ and that’s ‘The Documentary.'” Although many of these historical hip-hop references are amusing and clever, at times it becomes too much, and by the end of the album it feels like The Game has managed to mention virtually every single prominent rapper since 1990 at least once.When The Game is not name-dropping, he mostly raps about how great it is to be a part of Aftermath (he praises Dre to no end), and boasts about how he is going to help revitalize rap. Although the result is a plethora of catchy songs, for an album called “The Documentary” one learns very little about The Game. Aside from the near-fatal shooting, The Game only scratches the surface of his life experiences. With the exception of tracks such as “Like Father, like Son,” where The Game raps about the birth of his son, he rarely says anything of substance about himself. On “Dreams,” The Game declares that his debut is “‘Ready to Die’ ‘Reasonable Doubt’ and ‘Doggystyle’ in one,” which references the respective debuts of Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg. However, these artists all painted distinctly unique, detailed portraits of themselves in their debuts, which not only distinguished them from their peers, but also showed aspects of their lives that listeners could empathize with. Not only did they display their rapping talents, but also their excellent storytelling abilities. The Game only shows half of this in “The Documentary,” for while he raps well, he does not create enough of a distinguished persona to be on the same plateau as these debuts.The Game clearly did his homework and demonstrates a vast knowledge of hip-hop both in terms of history and his own rapping, but the album wavers a bit towards the end because of its limited scope and vision. However, it is still a solid debut, and there are plenty of catchy highlights such as “How We Do,” “Westside Story,” “Put You On The Game,” “Dreams” and/or “The Documentary” that will likely get lots of radio play. The Game is still relatively new to rap, so he is still in the process of finding both his flow and his identity as a rapper. With his deep knowledge of hip-hop, strong hip-hop connections in Aftermath and his intriguing back story, in all likelihood The Game will only take his game even higher.