Wednesday, August 27, 2008

album review: the game - l.a.x. (2008)

Artist: The Game
Album: L.A.X.
Record Label: Geffen/Interscope
Release Date: August 26, 2008

Since the release of his first mixtape in 2002, Jayceon Taylor, better known as The Game, has made it his life’s calling to resurrect west coast rap and force feed it to the masses. Even during his stint with G-Unit, the 28-year-old rapper represented and remained loyal to Compton, like the greats Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.

Now, six years later, after months of being pushed back, The Game unleashes his third and supposed final album, L.A.X. In any case, if an artist is releasing their last album, his or her A-game needs to be brought (no pun intended). With L.A.X., The Game decided to pull out all the stops, reeling in some of the biggest artists and producers in hip-hop and R&B to collaborate on what ended up being one of the most ambitious projects in quite some time.

The Game has a known ear for beats, and the production on L.A.X. is close enough to some of the best production heard this year for mainstream releases. With beats from Cool & Dre, Kanye West, Nottz and Hi-Tek, it’s hard to notice that Dr. Dre doesn’t produce for The Game anymore. Furthermore, the cameos on this album are endless. Interscope must’ve spent a large sum on his behalf, bringing in Lil’ Wayne, Common, Ice Cube, Nas, and Ludacris, just to name a few. Almost every song that features any of this all-star line-up is a prospective hit, considering the singles he’s released thus far have already done well.

Lyrically, you won’t see much progression from The Game in comparison to previous albums. He continues to rhyme about his troubled past, which includes but is not limited to sex, drugs and violence, and the name-dropping still runs most of his songs. However, The Game has always had a certain way with words to keep the songs fresh. The name drops may turn some people away, but he manages to create new metaphors and similes that are both entertaining and clever, while managing to pay homage to those who have influenced his own style.

There are very few lulls when listening to the album, which is an impressive feat considering its 76 minute runtime. Aside from the abrasive Intro and Outro, both prayers by hip-hop hostile DMX, the only skip-worthy track is “Touchdown,” which might as well be one of the Game’s most trite tracks to date. L.A.X. has a very wide-range of sounds aside from the West Coast. From soulful jams like “Let Us Live” to club-bangers such as “Money” to the bedroom influenced faux balladry of “Gentleman’s Affair,” there are songs on L.A.X. that will reach a wide array of people.

Considering the state of the music industry, there is very little chance that this album will be as commercially successful as its predecessors The Documentary and Doctor’s Advocate. Despite the sales difference, L.A.X. will go down as The Game’s crowning achievement, and will hopefully stand the test of time. If this is indeed his last album, Jayceon Taylor will be content with the fact that he dropped out of the game while he was still shining.

Grade: B+

the game on myspace.


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