On the release of The Game’s third full length album, LAX, a myriad of questions await the man named Jayceon Taylor on his self-proclaimed “last album.” What’s The Game talking about on this album? Who is he working with? Is this his last album? Even with these burning questions from onlookers, The Game pushes all of his old controversy and recent speculation to the side and delivers his project to the world.
    Even though some naysayers might say that he might not have much to talk about on this album or the South is on top right now and doesn’t have room for The Game’s West Coast sound, with LAX he’s out to prove them wrong. {mosimage}
    See, The Game is used to being an underdog and what he does have going for him is a menacing delivery and incredible flow; respect from his peers in the industry; and a keen ability to write songs and make hits. It’s also interesting to note that while The Game is a West Coast artist, his sound accompanies more of an East Coast flavor which gives him a wider audience (along both coasts) than many other artists could accommodate.
    The album begins with a spirited sermon by none other then Earl Simmons (yes, DMX), and follows with the opener, “LAX Files.” This is not a spectacular opening song, but not a bad one either. “State of Emergency,” featuring Ice Cube, is a riot-inciting track with that signature West Coast sound and Cube’s barking on the hook, welcoming back a rejuvenated vigor reminiscent to his days of classic albums Death Certificate and Lethal Injection.
    The Game also brings out another rap vet, Wu-Tang’s Raekwon for “Bulletproof Diaries,” and rides with neo-soul singer Bilal on “Cali Sunshine.” The anthemic “Big Dreams” produced by Cool and Dre with its epic horns and booming drums should be one of the radio singles off the album and “House of Pain” is also a trunk banger.
    With all of theses highlights to offer, The Game flies even higher with the feel good anthem of “Angel” featuring Common and a melodic driven beat by Kanye West. The closing musical track is the moving “Letter to the King” featuring Nas. On the latter, Game laments on Dr. Martin Luther King and his respect for the “first Braveheart.”
    “If Dr. King march today would Bill Gates march?/I know Obama would Hillary take part?/great minds think great thoughts the pictures I paint make the Mona Lisa look like fake art/da pain I feel is like Nelson Mandela ‘cause when it rains it pours I need Rihanna’s umbrella……”
    Introspective indeed. As strong as this quote is, one of The Game’s greatest strengths is also one of his greatest weaknesses. Many have accused his style of being “namedropitis” where he fills his verses with too many bars of celebrity’s names and aliases like “my competition is stiffer than Ronald Reagan” or “I keep a Cannon (Nick) like Mariah.” Sometimes his style is refreshing and entertaining while other times it can be annoying and redundant. As brilliant as a song like “Angel” is, he sounds generic and boring on “Touchdown.”
    Fortunately for The Game, these mistakes are minor, and with LAX, he has arguably produced one of the best hip-hop albums of 2008. While Nas’ Untitled is on another level lyrically and Lil’ Wayne’s The Carter 3 sold the most albums this year, commercially and artistically, LAX might be the sleeper hit of 2008 for rap fans. The Game shows his versatility by being introspective and personal with songs like “My Life,” keeping it gangsta on “Let Us Live,” and showing his sensitive side to the ladies on “Gentleman’s Affair,” all without sounding forced and being 100 percent The Game. The production is A+ with everyone from Scott Storch to J.R. Rotem to DJ Hi-Tek delivering some of their best work, and The Game shows a balanced chemistry shining (but not overshadowing) alongside every guest. If this is his last album as he says it is, we are truly witnessing one of this generation’s greats retire while still in his prime — at a time when he is truly at the top of his “game.”
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