Ten years since he came on the scene with The Documentary, The Game dropped his seventh album, The Documentary 2, on October 9th. The album debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and features a host of hip hop legends such as Q-Tip, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Drake among others.
It would seem that The Game is in the right place at the right time, with West Coast gangsta rap back on the rise with Kendrick Lamar and YG all coming out with top charting albums this year. Not to mention the Straight Outta Compton movie, The Game is in a good spot to explore different nuances of gangster rap with this album. From nostalgia about growing up in a in the middle of LA gang wars, to his big man on top mentality, to his albeit slightly awkward take at being “culturally and socially aware,” The Game brings it all to the table with this LP.
At the same time, it’s clear The Game is still a student of hip hop and he’s still learning what it really means to be a rapper producer. The Game holds very few producer credits on the album, making it hard to claim he actually “made” the album. With big names like Dr. Dre, Jahlil Beats, Mike WiLL Made it, and will.i.am this album was too big to fail. However, this album falls short of groundbreaking hip hop production. The dream production team defiantly doesn’t fail, but it doesn’t shine either. The 15h song The Documentary 2 has a relatively weak DJ Premier beat compared to what fans expect from him. Also the 14th song, “Mula”, features Kanye West and a weird trap style beat that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the poppy-rap album.
Though the production may not be quite up to the likes of Compton and My Crazy Life, it is clear The Game has been working on his technique. Lyrically The Game has a new focus as he recounts his Westside story in great detail and with more meaning than ever. The city of Compton comes to life in “Mula,” “Dollar and a Dream,” and “Don’t Trip,” featuring The Game’s views of the gang wars, going to a Crip High school while living in a Blood neighborhood, and the crack fiends that roamed the streets. Even with the heavy hitting features on these tracks, their verses don’t outshine The Game’s new found melodic flow and memorable lines, “Back like I never left, nigga I’m on my second breath.”
Compared to this stiffer flows on 2005s The Documentary, Game’s rapping on the sequel is faster and has more of a desirable pattern. This skillful delivery redeems some awkward phrasing (“This is that nigga, The Chronic mixed with embalming fluid”) and the pitfall of the album “Bitch, You Ain’t Shit.”
Most notable is the album’s length. Running a total of 73 minutes it’s worth a full listen as it has few speed bumps. The album as a whole plays with the same film-like flow from one song into the next, similar to To Pimp a Butterfly. The Documentary 2’s saving grace is Dr. Dre’s stamp of approval, which is most likely the reason so many notable rappers are featured. Though this album reached chart topping heights, it’s clear The Game still needs a few classes in production before he can truly be a West Coast legend.