Wake up, the west coast is back! From the depths of Compton's mean streets comes Dr. Dre's newest protégée The Game. Armed with a quick temper, rough demeanor and sharp tongue, The Game has been molded by the industry's best to be the savior of the west coast. His debut release, The Documentary, is a fitting tribute to those that have paved the way before him and is an album that will certainly put the west back on the map.
Overall, The Documentary is a tale of two stories. On the one hand, Game's debut release is one of the best-produced albums of the last three years. With a star-studded lineup of producers ranging from Dr. Dre to Kanye West and Just Blaze, Game's beat selection is masterful. However, on the other hand, his lyrical performance fails to live up to the beats he is rhyming on. As a rookie emcee, Game stubbles throughout The Documentary with his one-dimensional rhymes and continuous name-dropping. There is not much creativity to Game's lyrics and his flow is almost non-existent on every track. However, even worse is Game's obsession with name-dropping, something that gets old very quickly. The constant mentioning of Dr. Dre, Eazy E, N.W.A., Biggie, 2pac and Nike Air Force One's grows tiresome after the first couple of songs, let alone the entire album. Every verse on The Documentary follows this pattern of name-dropping, making it very clear that Game is an emcee with not much to say.
Nevertheless, with poor lyrics and all, his debut album is still a success due to the production. Dr. Dre and his usual production team especially stand out as they put forth their best work in years. Dre, Scott Storch and Mike Elizondo's plotting, dark alley keys on "Westside Story" makes for an instant classic as Game runs through his usual assortment of topics. The window shattering bass of "Higher" finds Dr. Dre at his best with the track's magnificent drums and vintage piano keys. Game's captivating hook only puts the icing on the cake, as "Higher" is destined for big things. However, The Documentary's most intriguing cut is "Start From Scratch". An intoxicated Game delivers a chilling look inside his past, from being shot and left for dead, to meeting Dr. Dre and starting his rap career.
Besides Dr. Dre, a variety of big named producers lend a helping hand on The Documentary. Kanye West's "Dreams" finds Game on the receiving end of a lavish Jerry Butler vocal sample, which helps to overcome his repetitive rhymes. On the Cool & Dre produced "Hate It Or Love It", Game once again receives some help, this time from good friend 50 Cent. The two G-Unit soldiers go back and forth trading braggadocios verses, while 50 conjures up another mesmerizing hook. On the flip side, DJ Hi-Tek provides some thick Cali smog on "Runnin", which will send the listener flashbacks to Dre's original "Chronic" (it is that dope). Even Eminem (of all people) cooks up a heat rock with "We Ain't", as Game even borrows Em's flow and claims, "Em just killed me on my own shit".
While The Documentary is undoubtedly the best west coast album to come out in recent memory the album faces other obstacles besides Game's lack of lyrical talent that keeps it from being truly special. The sappy "Special" is your usual coerced ladies track that sticks out like a sore thumb on the album. As is "How We Do", a formulaic attempt that fit the cookie cutter mold Aftermath usually uses for their lead singles.
If you can put aside Game's constant name dropping and lifeless lyrics than The Documentary is certainly a triumphant achievement for the west coast. It is not often that a high profile emcee lives up to the hype on their debut release, but Game managed to overcome the odds thanks to a production lineup most artists would kill for. If Game can expand his horizons and tighten up his lyrical content than the west may truly have their heir to the throne. But for now, The Documentary gives the west something to cheer about until The Doc decides to drop Detox.