Evident more now than ever before, The Game is obsessed with his standing in the pantheon of rappers. “It’s funny,” he says, “how you do your little top fives and never mention me.” Elsewhere we learn he expects Nas and Jay-Z, two rappers who once informally competed for the title of ‘Best Rapper Alive’, will be listening to Jesus Piece with interest. There are numerous references to other rappers, to other musicians, to his frustration with Dr Dre, to how he will no longer be known as Curtis Jackson’s dog, to how Eminem outshone him on his debut, The Documentary. Yawn. Frankly, the reason The Game doesn’t get a mention in our little top fives is because he would struggle to get a mention in our bigger top 50s. His obsession with his competitors, colleagues and would-be peers diminishes him. It detracts from this album.
And there’s a lot to detract from. The title track is a subtle, choir-driven gem of an instro with Kanye chipping in for the hook. All That (Lady) bounces along like a tribute to the G-Funk era ought to. Heaven’s Arms is ice cold; menacing and understated. Name Me King soars. And Hallelujah, an occasionally light-hearted examination of the tension between living righteous and checking out all the pretty ladies at church, is surprisingly engaging.
In the end, though, The Game’s insecurities are fatal. Why listen to a rapper who looks up to the best when you can just listen to the best? It’s a question that’s unanswered here. The Game’s very desperation for recognition has made that recognition impossible.
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