You may have counted Jayceon Taylor (B.K.A The Game) out when he was booted out of G-Unit. You may have counted him out when that outrageous tape of him on Blind Date showed up, or when news of the butterfly tattoo or his past as a stripper came up. You may even have counted him out after his one-man war against the entire Aftermath collective, which ended up alienating him from two of the greatest on both coasts (Dr. Dre and Jay-Z) and some in the Midwest (Eminem) and made him pretty much a pauper in the street cred department. But anyone who actually listened to this man couldn’t have had any doubts that he had a really great album in him. That album was “The Doctor’s Advocate.”
His most recent album, entitled “L.A.X.,” is much better than that. Word is that Taylor himself leaked the clean version to the net last week. While this tactic may seem pretty counterintuitive to the normal “giving your product away for free doesn’t really make money” profit model, The Game has something to prove that is for him, far more important than money. He’s already proven that he can sell (7 million copies sold worldwide from his first two albums -about the same amount as all three of Wayne’s “Tha Carter” albums combined), and he’s already proven that he can do it with the support of the whole industry (The Documentary). Now with the knowledge that he may never work with his mentor and idol Dr. Dre ever again and with the knowledge that he has been made generally a laughing-stock in many circles, it’s his desire to prove that he can create a classic West Coast album on his own without the support of much of the industry (and indeed much of the West Coast). And he delivers. This album is the best West Coast rap release since, dare I say it, Doggystyle, or at least 2001.
Think I’m just being sensational? Then check it out yourself. L.A.X. finds The Game at his angriest, hungriest, and most vulnerable. His lyricism and delivery have been stepped way up since his days appearing on songs with 50 Cent and crew, and his charisma, which was an obvious weak point on some early songs, has been ramped up dramatically. On songs like “Ya Heard,” “Angel,” “Bulletproof Diaries” and the brilliant “Letter to the King” (which is an amazing tribute to MLK and the Civil Rights movement) he holds his own with Ludacris, Common, Raekwon, and Nas.
Even having these guys appear on a song would be enough for most rappers, but this album finds The Game trading verses and keeping up with, maybe even surpassing, Luda, Comm, The Chef, and Escobar; a feat which makes the album that much better. His solo efforts are amazing, with “House of Pain” and “Dope Boyz” being standouts, and his songs with quickly rising singers Chrisette Michele and Keyshia Cole (“Let Us Live” and “Game’s Pain) are great as well. Hell, even the intro and outro, provided sermon-style by our favorite mugshot DMX are good.
In the end, it might be easier to point out the flaws in the album than the good parts. L.A.X. runs slightly long, and a removal of the weaker songs with Raheem Devaughn and Latoiya Williams (“Touchdown” and “Never Can Say Goodbye”) would have been a welcome edit. And even though the songs with Ice Cube and Lil Wayne are great (“State of Emergency” and “My Life,’) I think we all would have loved to have them spit actual verses…instead of hooks.
-Vann R. Newkirk, II
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