Review Summary: Solid hip-hop, but excessive to a fault. Too many guests, too many shifts in style and theme.
They say if you love something, let it go. The Game does not agree with this notion, especially not concerning his two loves: Los Angeles and hip-hop. Referencing the Dodgers logo gracing his right cheek, The Game says "It holds you down, this is LA. Wrote this shi
t on my face." Let it go? Not without help of a laser. Thankfully the borderline creepy obsession he had with Dr. Dre has been evolved into his love of hip-hop in general. And when I say thankfully, I do it cautiously, because this evolution essentially gives him more to work with. Having established himself as a similative, name-dropping MC, he no longer limits himself to Dre or even the west coast, littering LAX
with references to everyone from Martin Luther King to Kurt Cobain to Scarface (both the rapper and the fictional character). He references Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" on multiple tracks and even name drops artists featured on the album on songs on which they do not appear. And on that note, even his cast of guest artists has been expanded: Raekwon, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo, Common and many, many more. The gang's all here, and they brought friends. Pair this with the fact that the album features tracks produced by twenty (note: there are 19 tracks) different producers and you can imagine things getting a little inconsistent. This is of course nothing new. The Game is what I'd like to call a bridge artist. Whether he's bridging the gap between east and west coast rap or gangster and crossover hip-hop, the guy is always weaving between scenes and styles and never one for quality control, his records always end up being bloated and inconsistent as a result.
Going so far as to feature "Are We Done Yet?" star Ice Cube (doing the best impression of himself circa 1991), "State of Emergency" is pure, unadulterated G-Funk. On the other end of the spectrum is "Dope Boys", featuring Travis Barker's cacophonous drum-work and a core-sound that's eerily similar to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir". "Angel" features Common and serves as a spiritual successor to his career-defining "I Used to Love HER", now likening hip-hop to an Angel rather than a trend-shifting, exploitive young woman. And then there's "My Life" featuring Lil' Wayne and his godforsaken vocoder. Beyond Weezy's mostly unintelligible chorus, "My Life" is an obvious highlight, painting a somber picture that has two hardened thugs perhaps wondering if God has forgotten about them. I could go on, but I wont, since it's "going on" that hurts LAX
. There's just way too much extraneous material on here, especially the clumsily written "Gentlemen's Affair" and the flat out confusing intro/outro combination, which features a surprisingly not dead (and not barking DMX) praying and screaming uncontrollably.
Going on The Game's implications that this album is his last, LAX
is an appropriate swansong. I say this not because it's in any way transcendent or above the ordinary, I say it because it isn't. It's a quintessential Game record, which is to say it's riddled with name dropping, a dichotomy of bouncy throwback cuts and gangster tunes, and The Game's unbridled tendency to emulate other artists (on the Nas featured track "Letter To The King", The Game transforms into Nasir Jones II). When it's good, it's really good. Otherwise, it's never really bad, just excessive and somewhat unfocused.