There couldn’t be a more apt introduction to The Game’s third album than “Come to my hood/ Look at my block/ That’s that project building, yeah that’s where I got shot/ Cause I was more hood than Suge/ Had more rocks than Jay/ More scars in my face than the original Scarface”. The Game is a caricature of a gangsta; but not being from Compton I don’t really know if this is how it really is. If Baudrillard was still alive he’d be welcoming us to the hyperreal and pointing to Jayceon Taylor as ‘exhibit A’.
That’s the moralising over and done with – there’s an album to be reviewed here; and it’s not half bad. After Pastor DMX ends his prayer the J.R.Rotem-produced LAX Files sets a pretty high bar with as powerful an opener as The Game has managed thus far in his career. Ice Cube provides effective throwback value in State of Emergency, which could almost pass off as classic NWA were it not for the foghorns in the first couple of bars. It certainly feels like a 2008 addition to the Menace To Society soundtrack.
My Life starts inconspicuously enough (although we do learn The Game’s dogs are called Tupac and Biggie), until Lil Wayne drops his synthesized hook which admittedly does lead into more posturing but like The Documentary’s Father and Son it doesn’t hide the fact that hip-hop isn’t just about blunts, bitches and 40s. It’s an emotive track, and while a lot of that is to do with studio generated effects in concept and delivery it is almost flawless – My Life is definitely LAX’s early high point.
Classic soul songstress Betty White‘s brief vocal sample is neatly meshed into Money by Cool and Dre; while Cali Sunshine and House of Pain demonstrate consistent quality through diverse tracks. There’s the (funnily enough) sunny, laid back track making use of a sample from The Dramatic‘s California Sunshine while House of Pain blasts the Compton derived testosterone filled fare anyone familiar with the genre will appreciate. That isn’t to say there aren’t some numbers that are just out of place on LAX, with Touchdown and Angel being cases in point.
Time may prove that to be a short-sighted criticism, even Dr Dre‘s 2001 has some numbers that sit uncomfortably on the album but in isolation aren’t worse than anything else on the album, they’re just different. However these filler tracks are unnecessary because The Game’s music is not a passive listen and although LAX’s tail is strong, you’re weary when you get there. Perhaps one of the telling strengths of LAX is that despite all star guest appearances from the likes of Ludacris, Travis Barker, Nas and the aforementioned Ice Cube it is very much The Game’s album.