Jayceon Terrell Taylor was once just a humble drug dealer and member of the aggressive L.A. gang The Bloods, but events after one drug deal gone wrong lead him to become one of the most prominent members of the new West Coast hip hop movement. His uncanny tales of life in the hood caught the attention of hip hop heavyweights such as Dr. Dre and Sean Combs. He quickly made friends and then enemies with then famous rapper 50 Cent. Dozens of disses over the years, with 50, kept fans interested, but once the white flag was waved, the hype and acclaim behind both rappers would quickly die down. Fans were then left with a complete mess of a rapper with 50 Cent and a good quality west coast blood in The Game. As quick as The Game rose, was as quick as he fell from major relevancy. After his third studio effort and the drop of one article, Game called it quits, wanting to focus on the bigger picture in life. But Interscope wasn’t having it, and wanted him to release an album as soon as possible. After a handful of mixtapes and many luring questions, “The R.E.D. Album” is released. With only two iffy singles being released, followers of Game speculated, Will Game learn from his mistakes and return with a solid LP for his fans? Or will he just try to sell records, get out of his contract and career for good. I’m proud to say that this is one for the fans, and if you have enough time, one of the most enjoyable listens of 2011.
“The R.E.D. Album” begins with a narrative from Dr. Dre speaking a short summary of Game’s parents and how Game came to be. These short narratives happen throughout the album telling the listener about Game’s early life to now, what being a gangstar at 31 really means. Dre’s voice fits perfectly for the tales of Taylor’s story; forget Morgan Freeman for your next History channel special, sign Andre Young up to day! These storylines are interesting, but nothing someone couldn’t find on Taylor’s Wikipedia page in a minute. “The R.E.D. Album” comes in at a whopping 72:32. Come to think of it, listening to Game’s whole discography would take almost five hours. Five hours in four albums, today’s hip-hop youth listeners would never make it past the first hour, merely because of the magnitude of it. However for most of his career, Game has had little trouble with quantity over quality, like many rappers do. He is able to fascine memorably songs with his tales of the streets and raspy, more improved, West Coast type flow.
The most enjoyable songs that come to mind are “Martians vs. Goblins” and “Speakers on Blast”. “Martians vs. Goblins” excellently combines that Odd Future/Neptunes style with West Coast style, with a simple low electronic melody with a few strings and other syths backing it up. Both Tyler and Game kill the track, in a very good way; Game taking shots at everyone from Lil B to J.K. Rolling, and Tyler delivering a verse that overshadows 80% of his verses on “Goblin”. Tyler showing up makes me here makes me wonder will he be a reoccurring feature. Such was Raekwon last year, due to the success of OB4CL Pt. 2, it could be quite possible. Lil Wayne just repeats with “Bitch I’m a mother ***in’ martian” and doesn’t even bother with a verse, which was a great move by Game. “Speakers on Blast” beat is straightly southern; it sounds like a polished Waka track, with weird low background syths, heavy brass, and repeated “Hey”. Big Boi showcases his verse with the same passion and excitement that he was praised for on his latest LP. Game perfectly fits his verses and chorus that you would hear on a southern radio hit with better lyrics and charm. E-40’s flow and unconventional lyrics create a funny novelty that Game and Big Boi wouldn’t be able to do, due to the fact their styles wouldn’t fit in a comedic way. Both are truly two of the most memorable tracks, in hip-hop, today.
Sadly, they tend to overshadow the rest of the songs for the album. None of which truly feel like exceedingly new ground for Game. We still get three songs in a row with an R&B type hook and simple verses about women or the life out side of the hood (“Hello”, “Pot of Gold”, and “All the Way Gone”). We also still have tracks about street life, it dangers, and rewards. This is what Game has had going for him for his whole career, and doesn’t stray too far from it and its core ideas. Game is kind of under the mentality of: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and proceeds with his hood tales. These tales may not be totally inventive, but they are done very well. From the gun blazing “Heavy Artillery” to the straight Boyz-N-Tha-Hood inspired “Ricky”. Game reps that West Coast and backs it up in a gritty manner. “Born in the Trap” is a very well done tribute to Nas, with similar rhyming patterns and a Dj Primer beat, I was every tricked my first listen thinking it was in fact Nas.
The Production continues to impress me every time I listen to this album. No beats sounds too polished and shiny but rather grimy, matching the dirty tales of Game’s lyrics. Every beat sounds to be created for each song. The produces range from the ever so reappearing Cool and Dre to all time great Dj Primer. Whether it’s the simple flip of "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation on “Red Nation” or the eerie vocal sample reciting a list of guns on “Heavy Artillery”, the production has a little bit of everything without being too overwhelming at the same time.
In an interview for Billboard magazine, Game said “I wanted to put all my albums together and really tell everyone where I’m from and where I started”, and Game fulfills that exact statement. He puts a mix of all his street tales together and matches it with great ear of beats. Game is starting to become a veteran in the rap game and eventually a legend with continued releases like these. It will take some time to get into, but after a few listens you will be thankful Game picked up his the mic again and delivered a solid album in the now rising West Coast scene.