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The Game - The Documentary

Review: Jack Foley

NEW hip-hop sensation, The Game (aka Jayceon Taylor), is being billed as the saviour of the West Coast - someone worthy enough to follow in the footsteps of NWA luminaries such as Dr Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube and Snoop.

It's little wonder, then, that his debut album, The Documentary, comes with some pretty heavy credentials, with Dr Dre serving as executive producer; Eminem, Kanye West, Timbaland and Just Blaze on board as producers, and guests including Eminem, 50 Cent, Mary J Blige, Nate Dogg, G Unit's Tony Yayo, Busta Rhymes and Faith Evans.

For an album that boasts such impressive credentials, it is perhaps a little disappointing to report that The Documentary comes up a little short.

Opening track, Westside Story, for instance, sounds hopelessly like 50 Cent's In Da Club (and features a guest spot from 50 Cent himself), while several of the guests impose their own style on The Game to the extent that it doesn't really sound like anything different from the norm.

That said, it should ensure that The Documentary reaches out into the mainstream pretty fast, while helping to draw fans of Eminem, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes to the new guy with almost effortless ease.

And when it's good, the album is very good - emerging as an expletive heavy, attitude-laden journey through The Game's life-story that drops some truly funky beats and all manner of great rhythms into the bargain.

Tracks such as Dreams, which provide The Game with a platform for his own talents, is a great hip-hop cut, complete with some nice samples and some hard-hitting lyrics.

While the Motown/Northern Soul vibe surrounding Hate It or Love It, which again features 50 Cent, is a real hip-grinder and sure to go down well on both the West Coast and East Coast dancefloors.

Higher features the sort of Compton heavy bassline that could easily place it on the soundtrack of a movie like Training Day, while the string-heavy How We Do is a good listen, even if it owes more in style to 50 Cent than The Game.

Faith Evans adds a strong duet to Don't Need Your Love, which really exposes the hurt behind The Game's upbringing (he was shot five times in the chest, arms and leg following a drug deal), while Special, featuring Nate Dogg, is a sassy ode to a girlfriend.

Fortunately, the album mixes it up enough to stay interesting, only becoming bogged down in gang-heavy sentiment during its middle section (not bad for 18 tracks).

Of the disappointments, We Ain't, featuring Eminem, sounds like a fairly routine D12 number, while Church For Thugs and Put You On The Game are a little too heavy for their own good.

And the album could do with a genuinely feel-good old-school hip-hop track, such as NWA's Express Yourself, or De La Soul's Three Is The Magic Number.

But if you dig the likes of Eminem and 50 Cent, plus rate Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg's style, then The Documentary is probably the first essential hip-hop album of the year.

And with such heavyweight talent in his corner, expect to hear a lot more from The Game in years to come - he looks as though he is here to stay.

Click here to find out more about The Game - The Documentary




Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Westside Story - 50 Cent
3. Dreams
4. Hate It or Love It - 50 Cent
5. Higher
6. How We Do - 50 Cent
7. Don't Need Your Love - Faith Evans
8. Church for Thugs
9. Put You on the Game
10. Start from Scratch
11. Documentary
12. Runnin'
13. No More Fun and Games
14. We Ain't - Eminem
15. Where I'm From - Nate Dogg
16. Special - Nate Dogg
17. Don't Worry - Mary J. Blige
18. Like Father, Like Son - Busta Rhymes

Click here to find out more about The Game - The Documentary

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