Consistency is key, and as far as the rap game goes there are a handful of individuals who deliver time after time after time. While an unlikely source of such consistency, mainly due to his endless array of sidetracking lyrical and street beefs – there have been a few embarrassing secrets dug up too – Jayceon Taylor, aka Game, seems to be a rhymer that the hustlers ride with, the girls scream for, and his peers unquestionably admire. Much of his music has proved timeless, if slightly repetitive occasionally, and his level of sales has maintained a respectable level during a declining climate that sees the Compton representative’s total sales sit close to the ten million mark.
With new album Jesus Piece marking his fifth major label release, Game has put together a conceptually stellar project that features near perfect production and cinematic tales of a road less travelled, unless of course you perceive yourself as a gangster. After switching album titles at least three times [two of them being Soundtrack To Chaos and F.I.V.E. (Fear Is Victory’s Evolution)] the decision to run with Jesus Piece was more to do with the conceptual split screen that glorifies street life whilst worshipping faith in a higher being than anything else.
Opening with the instrumentally haunting “Scared Now,” as a listener you’re immediately thrown in to a mix of madness. With lines referencing a few factual altercations, Game’s world becomes the platform upon which you are to view the next 13-15 tracks (depending on which version is purchased). Hearing him drop a few lines about his fist fight with rapper 40 Glocc – “Chase that n—a down, put him on Worldstar/ This n—a got away, in his girl’s car” – fans become privy to the fact that anything goes with this release.
As always Game’s tracklisting, much like his verses, features almost as many high-profile names as it does actual records. While it’s both a gift and a curse, the likes of Meek Mill, Chris Brown, Pusha T and Jamie Foxx all make appearances, with many more a part of the list. In fact there’s only two tracks where the Interscope signee rides solo.
Sampling D’Angelo’s “Lady,” Game along with Big Sean, Jeremih, Fabolous and Lil’ Wayne – whose verse hears a return to the type of witty wordplay he’s been criticised for stepping away from as of late – openly admits his love for his ride or die chick on “All That (Lady).” Breaking down the rewards for hanging tight, the Cool & Dre produced mid-tempo number identifies itself as an album highlight.
With more than enough to choose from with regards to above average moments, “Pray” stands out as a joint that needs to be revisited on more than one occasion. Aside from hearing one of the most relatable verses to date from J. Cole, the Sleep Party People sample used, again by Cool & Dre, is one that creates an emotional aura that most will have to sit with for a moment. With uncompromising concentration on their face, listener’s will without doubt list this in their top three cuts featured on the album.
The album’s darkest moment, and most honest, comes on the Boi-1da produced “See No Evil” where Game teams up with both eclectic singer/songwriter/producer Tank and current Prince of Compton, Kendrick Lamar. Breaking down the roots of his street life and blood gang ties, the ex-G-unit affiliate revisits the shooting that put him in a coma for five days as well as then telling some chilling tales that reference juvenile funerals and the scent of dead bodies. The mix of deep percussion and the occasional electric intervention, as well as the gripping lyrical picture painting, make for one hell of a thought provoking record.
Comedian Kevin Hart plays a big part [for a little man that is] in keeping the album’s concept alive with his on/off skits that hear him reference church, jewellery and self-judgement. With no official interlude listings, the album seems to flow in the right direction from start to finish. There is one exception however, and that’s for those that purchase the Deluxe Edition of Jesus Piece – the Young Jeezy and Future assisted “I Remember” sounds more like a poor attempt at recreating a trap anthem than a conceptual piece of the puzzle. Being that it’s a bonus cut there is the possibility that it is just that. However, if this album was a representation of a job and “I Remember” is Game’s idea of a bonus, not hitting target might be a better option.
Upbeat offerings such as “Church,” which hears Trey Songz take control of the hook, and “Celebration,” give listeners the chance to break away from the album’s conceptual intricacies. Straight back into them though, “Can’t Get Right” hears Game compare hip-hop to his street rise – “I used to wanna be a lil’ Hov/ Started with a lil’ roc, got me a lil’ stove” – as well as claiming the uniting of both Jay-Z and Nas was the beginning of rap’s makeover.
Yet to really see what he can do on his own, Jesus Piece just further cements Game’s ability to work well with others whilst constructing a solid overall offering. Easily one of his better albums [although topping The Documentary is always going to be a hard feat] there’s no question that he’s going to be a fan favourite for years to come.