Where does Game rank against the hardest rappers of all-time? Article by Michael Partis
“All these motherfuckers been patiently waitin/ Since the West coast fell off, the streets been watching/The West Coast never fell off, I was sleep in Compton”
“Westside Story”-The Game
He’s had numerous beefs, feuds, and battles; He did 120 Bars, then 200 Bars and Runnin’, and then 300 Bars and Runnin’; he went from not wanting beef with Jay-Z, to then wanting beef with Jay-Z. Now, The Game’s 3rd album, L.A.X., will be his last as he plans for “retirement” (this despite recent rumors that he’ll be replacing Mack 10 in the group Westside Connection).
No matter what, it is undeniable that Game has left his imprint on the industry. A multi-platinum freshman album, two Billboard number one debuts, and a devoted fan base that voted him into the Final Four of VIBE Magazine’s “The Best Rapper Alive” Tournament (rating him as a better MC then fellow West Coast representers Crooked I, Snoop Dogg, and veteran Busta Rhymes). (WRITER’S NOTE: Us over here @ Real Talk NY did not vote in the tournament. Direct all issues and complaints with the results to the good folks at VIBE)
The range of accomplishments in the artist’s short career leads to the question of where does The Game compare all-time to other Gangsta rap greats?
There’s the initial question of classic albums. A classic album certifies you as an all-time great. Whether it be 5-mic’s, critical acclaim, or Hip-Hop heads willing to debate about how hot your album was, a classic is a necessity.
In the vain of The Chronic, Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, Aquemini, or any other classic Rap album you want to throw out there, Game does not have a release that quite reaches those heights. Yet the exceptional work on the album that introduced him to the world (2005’s The Documentary), and the solid offerings from the sophomore release of Doctor’s Advocate, allows The Game to hold his own.
What about charm? Charisma? Swag? While they do count for something: 1) Does a gangsta rapper need charisma? (Like would you describe Styles P or Kool G Rap as charming?) 2) Swag is a funny thing in the Hip-Hop game. Swag can sometimes be eternal (Big Daddy Kane, Tupac, B.I.G., they will, or would of, always have it); or it can be for the moment (name any rapper who had it, then fell off the planet—never to be the same again). We’ll take it out of the equation for this time.
One thing is certain, most people have to be co-signed. Either the street has to love you, or somebody else’s favorite rapper has to put you on. Hov put on Beans. Dre put on Snoop and Eminem. The streets certified The Lox. Dre put on Game, and 50 plus a slew of East Coast rappers (Jim Jones and others) certified that the Cali dude was official. Game’s cred must be emphasized. For a dude that: 1) goes back and forth every five seconds on who he wants to beef with, and who he doesn’t want to beef with, 2) was on a TV dating show (in case you forgot Google Game and Change of Heart), 3) Tatooed a butterfly on his face, 4) and cried (or practically cried; I’ll let you choose how to describe it), 4) lost the backing of his two main supporters (50 Cent and Dr. Dre), it’s kinda amazing that anyone still likes Game. Yet, he’s still standing. So he gets major points for this.
And then, there is the matter of talent. Lyrically where does Game stand in terms of narratives, metaphors, punchlines, and intricacy?
Game first gained notoriety through his appearances on the mixtape circuit (most notably those rhymes dropped on 50 Cent’s G-Unit Radio mixtape series and some track on various DJ Clue tapes). Rhyming like he had something to prove, the young gun came hardest when paired with some of the most talented MC’s. Peep the witty couplets and one-liners from the “Jackin For Beats” freestyle (f/Fabolous):
“Out here they call me ‘All-Star Game’
And every nigga with a gun is waiting on the ‘04 All-Star Game
So while you in the Staples parking lot
I’m watchin the corners, with the safety on like Ronnie Lott”
Or the street pathos on Cassidy’s “Aim for the Head:”
“why niggas wanna see me R-I-P
empty the clip in a nigga before I D-I-E
prayin on my downfall like B-I-G
I be in the cockpit ridin dirty like T-I-P
po-po pull me over wanna see I-D
searchin my shit tryin to find my 3 times 3
they don’t know I got 4 times 4 in the backseat
wit enough bodies on it to get a nigga 5 times 5″
Game does not blow listeners away with the book-learning infused rhymes of a Talib; he lacks the
poetic quality of Lupe or Nas; he does not quite bring the gangsta message with the smooth, laid-back flow of Snoop, or the clean delivery of B.I.G.; and he certainly can be blamed for too much name-dropping, and a border-line compulsive habit of borrowing too much from an classic album’s style. However, creative narratives in songs like “Dreams;” the wit and word-play seen in “Runnin;’” the raw emotion and vulnerability conveyed in “Like Father, Like Son,” or “Doctor’s Advocate”—these are aspects of Game’s music that often go under-looked by critics, but endear him to many fans.
Yet it is the unapologetic effort to rep his city (and coast), the dope aspects of his rhyming skills, and some ability to exhibit perseverance that allowed The Game to excel and reach a certain level of super stardom in the music scene. Time will tell can L.A.X. (or any other future work) maintain that success.