Artist: The Game
Album: The Documentary
Rating: 8 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
Think back for a second. You probably had a friend like this when you were younger- someone who had all the shiny new shit (like Ma$e and Puffy back in 98), someone who had Nintendo before everyone else (like The Wiz), someone who had a bike with shocks ten years before shocks would become the standard thing, someone who was rocking Jordans the day they came out. A friend who wouldn’t shut up about the people he knew, the places he’d gone, and what/where he was doing/going next.
Metaphorically speaking, Game is that friend.
Armed with an arsenal of radio ready beats by Dre, Just Blaze, Kanye, Timbaland, Eminem and just about any other hot producer of the moment. Armed with guest appearances by Busta Rhymes, Fiddy, Tony Yayo, Nate Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Eminem. Armed with what seems like a reference to and for every hip hop artist/situation in the history of the genre, Game is that friend (like Biz Markie).
“The Documentary”, in a few words, can be summed up as the most perfect (like Curt Hennig) of the G-Unit albums thus far. Which depending on your perspective and feelings on prior G-Unit recordings, may mean different things. To this reviewer, it blends the best beats of 2005 with an average rapper with a below average voice and flow (like a girl once a month). And that’s not necessarily an indictment of Game, just the truth (like Dre’s R&B protege). By now, everyone, their mother, and their grandmother has heard the array of singles from the LP. There’s ‘Dreams’ (but not like Biggie), the Kanye produced single which astutely compares Martin Luther King Jr., Aaliyah and Left Eye. There’s ‘How We Do’ and ‘Love It Or Leave It’, which feature 50 Cent outclassing a rapper on a track for the first time since he was shot 9 times. And there’s…umm…oh yeah, there IS no other big single. Why? Well you might have heard about Game leaving/dumped from/by 50 Cent (like Vivica Fox). One suspects that there were still legs on this release though – Just Blaze gives Game one of the best beats on the LP with ‘Church For Thugs’ (like 2Pac at a wedding), with soaring horns and driving drums. Timbaland laces ‘Put You On The Game’ with liberal doses of mournful strings over another club ready drum track. ‘Westside Story’ is on a more thugged out bassline/drum pairing, but eases up a bit by adding in a truncated ‘Cotton’s Dream’ (like Young And The Restless) sample to good effect. On the flip side, there is only one real misstep on the album when it comes to beats – Eminem doesn’t disappoint by continuing his streak of shit beats, with the uninspired and paint by numbers ‘We Ain’t’, which features, SURPRISE SURPRISE, minor keys, minor strings, and digitally buzzed out snares and drums.
Lyrically, the album is more or less a variation on the following theme-
‘I’m on fire like (insert west coast rapper here), when (insert west coast rapper here) dropped their first album’
More or less boastful shit mixed with copious, and by copious, I mean overbearingly obnoxious, references to anything and everything that has ever happened in the history of west coast hip hop, with a special emphasis on NWA and Eazy E. The first few tracks you hear it, you’ll smile and think it’s witty (like Jon Stewart). And then you realize that Game has NOTHING but this type of rhyme structure. More or less, he’s a 21st century rap groupie with a record contract (like Lil’ Kim). This is neither good nor witty, nor charming, and in fact detracts from the album overall. Especially when there are some pretty good, albeit standard fare, ideas, including an ode to his son on ‘Like Father Like Son’, and the aforementioned ‘Dreams’ which actually does have a pretty good message in there, regardless of the idiotic comparisons found in the chorus.
Final verdict? Up quite a bit from “Beg For Mercy”, way up from “The Massacre”, more consistent than “Hunger For More”, and a touch ahead of “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'”, which had thus far been the pinnacle of radio ready hip hop today. Now the real challenge arises- without G-Unit support, can Game do it again?