The Game is a protégé of Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, has the kind of gangbanger backstory that makes white journalists moist and he's from the birthplace of gangsta rap (Compton), with the N.W.A. and Eazy-E tattoos to prove it. His debut, The Documentary, features guest spots by Dre, 50, Nate Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Busta Rhymes, and production by Kanye West, Timbaland and Just Blaze. (Apparently, it takes a village to raise a rap superstar.) You or I could sell a million records with all that going for us.
Could The Game (Jayceon Taylor to his mama) do it on his own? Probably not. While he's a pretty good rapper for someone who's only been at it for, like, a year or two, he's never better than pretty good on The Documentary. The beats are almost uniformly great, but The Game can't hang with the marquee lineup the way Snoop Dogg did when Dre brought him off the bench for The Chronic. Trying to find his own voice, he shoots for a combination of 50 Cent's sing-song style and Eminem's anything-goes subject matter. Unfortunately, he ends up with rhymes like this one, from "Higher": "I'd do anything, but I wouldn't fuck Mariah/Even if she had Ashanti butt-naked in bed/'Cause she's got a forehead just like Tyra/I can say what the fuck I want." Guess that's true, but that doesn't mean anyone has to listen. Check back in a few records, when The Game has the skills to stand on his own.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.