Argue all you want as to who’s the current leader of the New West revolution but at one stage (and maybe even today) Jayceon Taylor, better known as Game, hands down was the frontrunner for this crown. Possessing the lyricism of which even had die hard East Coast affiliates had to approve, Chuck Taylor’s mix of controversy, raw delivery and formula for a big hit have kept his name buzzing since his much lauded Documentary album dropped in 2005. Whilst publicised beefs, label issues and more followed, most recently his legion of fans have been craving for his much delayed LP The R.E.D Album, which had been in the works for some years. Finally free of postponements and drama, Game’s fourth release hopes to reignite the hot streak with which he once ran and dispel any concerns that his previous hype was unwarranted.
What will put a smile on West Coast fans (and Game) more than anything is the co-signing of the project by Hip Hop MVP Dr Dre. Whilst appearing on numerous interludes throughout, it was his appearance on the superstar composed “Drug Test” alongside Snoop Dogg and Sly which all eyes and ears were seeking. With the imposing piano keys which have been ever present on LA classics, Game spits a solid verse to honour his mentors. Although the Doggfather offers little to be disappointed with, the Good Doctor’s ‘verse’ sounds lethargic and offers up a question of just what will Detox sound like with an aged Doctor.
As expected Game brings his gruff, gravel tones which for the most part sound inspired and hungry. Inviting Compton’s future star Kendrick Lamar on “The City” adds an extra spark to the already invigorating opening track, rounding off the five minute composition with a remarkable performance. Feeling like a much grander album than his previous few, The R.E.D Album boasts marquee producers and collaborations to match. “Red Nation,” the album’s lead single encapsulates this with a heavy kicking, head nodding anthem with Game pledging allegiance to the red flag and Lil Wayne delivering the chorus.
Weezy F Baby is also on hand to also drop a verse on the perverse sounding “Martians vs Goblins” which also features Odd Future‘s leader Tyler The Creator. Spitting much filth over the dirty bass powered track, Tyler proves to be more than a gimmick rapper; lyrically matching both Game and Wayne (with Game even jacking Wolf Haley’s drawl when spitting).
Even though a majority of the album dwells on gangster motifs and colour promoting, Game also brings to the table other emotions rather than anger. “Good Girls Gone Bad” invites Drizzy Drake to help aid in his account of such females, “Mama Knows” is a “Dear Mama”-like dedication to his mother (with sublime support from Nelly Furtado and The Neptunes) whereas the grief tinged ‘Ricky’ samples the stellar score from the 1991 film Boyz n Da Hood. Yet again Game’s name-dropping habit continues on R.E.D., (with Tyler even clowning about it on “Martians …”) even going as far as to rhyme similarly to some of the guests he has on hand (channelling Jeezy on “Paramedics” and Big Boi on the chorus for “Speakers On Blast”).
In addition, three tracks in succession borrow the same scheme of retrospective lyrics topped by an R&B chorus. “Hello” with Lloyd, “All The Way Gone” featuring Mario and Wale and finally the Chris Brown aided “Pot of Gold” are individually solid tracks, but with them all following each other their qualities merge and lack distinction at times. Game still manages to savour some landmark achievements on The R.E.D. Album; the grandest being given a DJ Premier instrumental for “Born In The Trap”. A brilliant coast-to-coast pairing, Preemo’s signature cuts and samples give the rapper extra ammunition for his performance, citing a number of black icons born in the trap.
Lengthy, (almost) controversy-free and diverse, Game ensures that the long wait for The R.E.D Album’s release was justified. With towering, charged displays, aided by productions from Cool and Dre, Mars and DJ Khalil, Compton’s infamous emcee shines with heavy hitting, anger and pain ravaged bars. Although it doesn’t top his debut release, it undoubtedly reassures many of the potential which he first showed back in 2005. Six years later, Jayceon Taylor no longer is seen as the diamond in the rough, but now one of the biggest assets not only to the West Coast, but to Hip Hop in general.