Perhaps the most puzzling facet of The Game’s character is not the fact that he continuously partakes in unusual antics, but it’s that he has the talent to let his music do the talking, opposed to his various shenanigans. Two critically acclaimed albums deep in the game, and it’s his reputation off-the-record that’s usually the topic of discussion. However, if he wasn’t making good music, nobody would seem to care. And judging from “Dope Boys” and “Game’s Pain,” the first singles off his third album L.A.X., he plans on keeping his spot as the West Coast’s premier attraction intact. He also stays true to his ability to thread the line between commercial and credible for an entire LP.
If it’s not broke, there’s nothing to fix, so The Game finds success yet again by enlisting proven heatmakers such as Scott Storch, Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem, and Kanye West to lay the groundwork for his brand of gangsterism. And with valuable producers, you get an invaluable benefit: range. Polar opposites like the dark and scenic “State Of Emergency” and “Cali Sunshine,” with its beaming inklings of Nottz’ created guitar, both work well within the album’s Californian theme, as does the aforementioned “Dope Boys.” But Game doesn’t let all his production get all the shine as he exercises the flow on the ode-to-freedom “Let Us Live,” exhibits a natural chemistry adjacent Raheem DeVaughn on the rhyme-laden “Touchdown,” and blacks out on DJ Toomp’s heavy metal massacre “House Of Pain.”
Conceptually, Game has never been too much of a prolific thinker. Just a gangsta he supposes. But the highlight of L.A.X. is watching him take steps towards those uncharted waters and venturing out into deeper territory. “Never Can Say Goodbye” finds the Cedar Block Piru accurately (and eerily) recounting some of Hip-Hop’s fallen greats’ last moments with vivid detail. With Wayne on the background vocals and a desolate Cool & Dre serenade on the forefront, Game peels a few extra layers off his thick-skinned demeanor to face some puzzling questions that circulate around his pain on “My Life.” Although it’s not a full explanation of what troubles that brain of his, it’s still a step closer to the light where as he’s kept listeners in the dark for the greater portion of his career.
In the finale, the subject matter jumps from serious to critical on the riveting “Letter To The King” which finds the Doctor’s Advocate and God’s Son reflecting on the accomplishments of Dr. MLK while taking swipes at Jesse Jackson. Here, Game carries out “The Dream” with a greater understanding and austere lyricism like “He set my mind free/so my mind free at last/So much, that I don’t even drink from a fuckin’ glass/I’d rather find the first fountain I can/and do it fast…” Ill.
Yeah, Game drops more names than Sammy the Bull and he rarely is there a moment where he rocks a chorus for dolo. But with the exception of Kanye, there hasn’t been a new artist this decade with a better admiration of constructing albums with all the climatic twists and turns to keep a listener engaged–as well as entertained. Hate it or love it, the underdog is now a top dog in the rap world and with L.A.X., he not only proves the third time is a charm, it’s also a given.
Previously Posted – “L.A.Xclusives” – L.A.X. Bonus Tracks | Notable Quotable – The Game’s “Letter To The King”