The allure of rap has proven to be the undoing of some of the game’s most successful artists, the desire to keep releasing music even when their best days have descended far beyond the horizon isn’t one that many can escape.
Making it to the top is hard, staying at the top is even harder and dealing with the comedown from the top is the hardest of them all….
“Die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain”
Rather than overstay their welcome and hit the inevitable point of drop-off, there are some rappers who just decide to pack it in all together and call it a day; Jay Z in 2003, 50 Cent in 2007 and Ma$e in 1999… they all came back.
Recently The Game announced that he’ll be retiring after his next album “Born 2 Rap”, and even though all of the previous examples have shown us that rappers retiring doesn’t usually last for that long, we’ll take him at face value.
I will go out on the ledge and say there’s a strong case for The Game having the best discography in Hip Hop (in terms of quality, quantity and consistency) but which album is the best?
Ranking The Game’s discography is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life, it’s robbed me of countless hours of sleep that I’ll never get back. Was it worth it? No. With each passing moment I find myself rearranging this list and moving a different album to the top, because with all great debates, there isn’t a wrong answer. So here it is, The Game’s albums ranked from worst to best (I’m going to post this before I have time to change my mind).
This was by far the easiest album to rank in The Game’s discography simply because it’s by far the worst one… There’s something hollow sounding about the whole project, everything from the weak subject matter to the forgettable interludes are the opposite of what we’ve come to expect from one of Compton’s favourite sons.
I think that after releasing “The Documentary” and “The Doctor’s Advocate” in the space of two years, The Game was just burnt out. Caught in a state of limbo, he was in a position where he didn’t have anything to say but still felt under pressure to release music from his contractual agreements, a demanding fanbase and artists ascending around him (e.g. Kanye West and Lil Wayne).
When you can rap as good as The Game can it’s near impossible to make a bad album, but he really put that theory to the test with LAX. Not even “My Life” and a heartfelt intro from DMX could save this one.
7. The R.E.D Album
The R.E.D album was the first Game album that I ever listened to from cover to cover so it will always hold sentimental value (it was also the first one I heard Kendrick Lamar), but now that I’m older and have heard the best of the what The Game has to offer, The R.E.D Album just doesn’t hit the same way it used to.
It’s like the first time you tasted the store brand Cola drink at the supermarket, it was amazing, it was sweet, fizzy and energising, everything your young taste buds never knew that they were missing out on… until you tried the REAL Coca Cola and realised “damn that cheap cola weren’t sh*t”. The R.E.D Album is that value brand cola drink.
This album came straight off of the back of the disappointment of LAX, and right from the opening track you can tell that The Game still had a chip on his shoulder.
The Game on “The City” :
“Came with LAX since critics said it was average, I was stressed the f*ck out torn between aftermath and Geffen, Interscope”
The word “overcompensating” comes to mind when you listen to this album and when you take into consideration the climate in which it was birthed (coming after a poorly received project). Almost every song sounds like a reach for a big radio single, as oppose to a contribution to a cohesive sounding album. There is an attempt at cohesion in the form of narrated skits featuring ‘Dr. Dre skits’ dotted throughout the album, but they really don’t do anything to help it flow better.
Name your top 10, I’m harder than the most of ’em/Matter of fact, shorten your list, nigga, top 5/ Game, Biggie, Hov… probably Pac, Nas
But in the midst of a slew of forced pop bangers are some flawless gems, none more pure than the “The City”. This is the best version of The Game, it’s that ‘ferocious Pitbull foaming at the mouth pulling on its leash until rips the tree out of the ground’ flow, married with angelic high notes on the instrumental and ‘pre-Good Kid’ Kendrick Lamar snapping on the outro and hook. Damn.
I actually still like this album, but I’ve got to be extra ‘nit-picky’ when making this list or else it’s going to take even longer (yup, I’m still making the list).
Had the potential to be so much more than it was, but still left us with some The Game’s most memorable songs:
1992 is the second concept album in The Game’s catalogue (“Jesus Piece” being the other) and takes us back to the moments that would go onto define the man that he would later become. Long before The Game was a rapper, a member of G-Unit or affiliated with Dr Dre, he was Jayceon Taylor… a child caught in the tug of war of LA of gang culture. Would he become a Blood or Crip? 1992 was the year he would decide.
If social media is anything to go on this would be the album that truly cemented The Game’s place as a “washed-up rapper”, due to the low sales and lack of a big lead single, let me be the one to tell you that’s a false narrative. Contrary to popular belief, this is some of the most inspired rapping of The Game’s career.
The lyrics on the opening track “Savage Lifestyle” paint a vivid picture of the 1992 LA Riots that would rival a most documentaries (“Fiends scratching themselves and stumbling out the dope house”). Unfortunately this album kind of came and went because it was released in the midst of a beef with Meek Mill and was ultimately overshadowed by “Pest Control” (a song that wasn’t even in the album); it generated a buzz but distracted from the project as a whole.
Despite this being his shortest body of work, it is probably the most dense; the lack of features and personal subject matter mean that pound-for-pound it has more Game than any of his other albums.
The production is very consistent and oozes nostalgia throughout, sampling the likes of Marvin Gaye and Ice T. However the same consistency can’t be said for the album as a whole, around the midway point the starts to fall flat and never really picks back up again, the themes get weaker and it starts to feel a lot less like 1992 and more like a collection of Game freestyles over old school beats.
A very respectable album that would be top 5 in most rappers discographies, just not The Game’s.