Review Summary: L.A.X. is lyrically a step down from Doctor Advocate and The Documentary. It features the best beats and hooks of Game's career, however, they can't make up for Game's abominable rapping.
Game seems to be motivated by pressure.
On his debut, The Documentary, Game was forced to carry the entire West Coast on his back, which he did competently enough, dropping the first multi-platinum West Coast album since Dr. Dre's 2001. On the follow-up, Doctor's Advocate, Game had to recuperate from a painful and incredibly hostile breakup with the men that made him, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre and prove he was an artist in his own right. Though neither album is a classic, Doctor's Advocate shows exponential growth over The Documentary, at least lyrically. Game made his point.
Perhaps the lack of pressure on Game to deliver on his third album (aside from the normal pressures of making an album) could explain why an artist that has a progressive track record suddenly decided to water down his lyricism, which was already strained by Game's NWA fetish and obsession with Los Angeles gang icons, like Chevy Imapalas and automatic guns.
Game, instead of trying to rise above his many lyrical shortcomings on his final album and make a classic, exacerbates and expands them.
On the Doctor's Advocate's opener, Lookin At You, Game made a straight West Coast banger, instantly shattering the lyrical glass ceiling of The Documentary and reclaiming his throne as the king of LA (until Snoop came and snatched the crown right back),
This time around, he attempts something similar with "LAX Files," except the beat isn't as loud or obnoxiously West Coast as Lookin At You (though just as distinctly rooted in the West's sound) and the rhymes are embarrassingly bad. Just look at how he opens the song:
"Come to my hood hood
Look at my block block
that's that project building, yeah that's where I got shot shot
Cause I was more hood than Suge
Had more rocks than Jay
More scars in my face than the original Scarface
Or the homeboy Scarface
Al Pacino couldn't be no gangsta
Deniro in Casino he no gansta"
Aside from the simplistic rhyme pattern and how we says hood, block, and shot twice (it's more annoying than it seems), look at the metaphors. Game has spit some incredibly clever lines in the past (Like 300 Bars n Runnin's "Just Blaze, cuz the kid got game like I fell asleeep and woke up in a Roc chain"), but here Game's attempts at wit are flat out contrived.
"More scars on my face than the original Scarface." Besides having no visible scars on his face, saying he has scars on his face like Scarface is, beyond being a hip-hop cliche, is just plain not clever. Neither is having more rocks than Jay. Neither is being more hood than Suge Knight.
The beat and chorus, however, is nothing short of brilliant, with beautiful crooning and soulful pianos taking you to the West Coast. Close your eyes during the chorus and you can see the palm trees, smell the weed smoke, and hear the hydraulics bouncing.
But when Game comes back on, he kills the illusion, straight up destroying the vibe.
The third track, an Ice Cube collabo is the same story. Cube shines, taking you there, and the beat knocks, but Game's verses are just awful.
The album's first true success is Bulletproof Diaries, where Game and Rae trade bars back and forth with a chemistry Rae hasn't had with an artist since he met Ghostface. Game still isn't on-point lyrically, but the sheer adreline rush you get from the track makes up for it.
But then things return to the awful haunts of the first two songs.
This album is heavy on guests (usually confined to the choruses), and, with the exception of Common, Nas, and Ne-Yo, they all do great jobs. The combination of stellar guests and the best beats of Game's career make for occasionally exhilirating listen, but neither can make up for Game himself.
His rapping is worse than it has ever been - and it's never been that great - and instead of just his constant namedropping ruining Game's lyrics, everything about Game's rapping is a problem.
Download "Let Us Live," "Bulletproof Diaries," and "House of Pain," then leave this album alone.
If you really want a good West Coast fix, check out Snoop Dogg's last album.