LAX is the Game's third studio album. For me this release is really a mixed bag, there are a few tracks i'm simply in love with and a few that could have been left out. Upon beginning of this album the listener is greeted by a strangely erie introduction and later outro which features DMX giving a strange sermon type religious speech which is while extremely strange it does set a serious tone for the album from the word go. The first track LAX Files is an instant classic, a hard beat along with game expressing some serious issues with an immaculate lyrical ability shining through. A wonderful inclusion in my opinion was the Bulletproof diaries track with Raekwon of wu tang. Both rap in almost a tag team lyrical assault on the listener and the product is wonderful, i would like to hear more from the two, i would also urge anyone to download flashback memories an even better track by the both of them. A few tracks i disliked were touchdown, and a skit called hard liquor which acts as almost a snippet of an unreleased track by Game and Dre which should have been on the album in my opinion. Also Camera Phone is missing which is a shame because that was not only a great song but released as a single. In summary This is a great album but is missing a few gems which are luckily available free download.
"Raised in the city of angels, where safe and danger switch lanes."
You don't have to be gangster to know the backstory behind 28 year-old rapper, The Game, releasing his third album since breaking on to the scene in 2005. Just as Dr Dre introduced Eminem to the rap business, and the two of them brought up 50 Cent as their prodigy -- they planned to expand their avenues with The Game as the newest of their investments.
'The Documentary' was the debut release on the Aftermath/G-Unit label (founded by Dr Dre and 50 Cent respectively) and promptly found its way to the top of the US Billboard propelled by the success of 'How We Do'. The album also featured 'Hate It or Love It', which remains to this date The Game's most successful US single release.
Despite his previous closeness shown in videos with mentor 50 Cent and other members of G-Unit, the relationship quickly broke down in a time where it doesn't take much for rappers to fall out. And get shot. The Game broke loose, showing signals of his headstrong nature growing up as a member of the Bloods that are worldly famous for their feud on the streets with Crips.
Almost two years on, in late 2006, The Game would release his second studio album under new label Geffen, having distanced himself from all he had worked with previously. And despite reports, Dr Dre did not produce any tracks for the album -- although there had been rumours of problems between Dre and 50 Cent due to Dre's refusal to break away from Game.
'Doctor's Advocate' only managed to shift 1.5 million worldwide compared to 'The Documentary' shifting over 5 million copies. Although the album still managed to reach #1 on the US Billboard, a lack of exposure meant the album would not enter the top 20 in the UK market. However, the album did feature The Game's most successful UK single to date -- 'Wouldn't Get Far' featuring Kanye West peaked at #3 on the UK charts. This album included appearances from more commercial artists in the form of The Game's new friends, i.e. Will.I.Am.
Straight out of Compton, the California rap star is back with what it is expected to be his third and final studio album (although reports suggest he may already be working on a fourth album titled 'DOC - Diaries of Compton'). L.A.X. is the Life And Times of The Game and two years on from his last album it looks as though it could be his biggest effort to date.
"So there ain't no proof that I ever walked through 8 Mile, and since their ain't no Proof I'll never walk through 8 Mile."
Born, Jayceon Terrell Taylor, there has been no attempted publicity stunts to report as yet in order to build up the anticipation for the new album. Whilst lesser characters maybe tempted to create 'beef' between rival artists in order to get people talking, it appears The Game has opted for an attitude of letting the music do the talking.
From a design perspective, there is a very familar trend with the artwork for the albums. Just as special editions of all The Game's two previous albums featured his first son, Harlem, on the front cover -- the default cover for L.A.X. features Harlem (now 5 years-old) and his second son, King Justice (who recently celebrated his first birthday). Whilst the other album covers have featured the trademark chrome alloy wheels with The Game taking a relaxed pose, the latest album replaces the tyres with an even more relaxing leather couch.
L.A.X.'s release was delayed from its original June release to August '08 with no real reason given, however it has been reported that a total of 220 tracks were recorded for the album with only 19 making the final cut. This has resulted in a lot of tracks leaking on to the internet actually not being from the final cut, although many have left a lasting impression on fans and wetted their appetite for what does make the final cut. 'Camera Phone featuring Ne-Yo' is a personal favourite of mine.
"California sunshine, in the summer time."
01, Intro ft. DMX (1.21)
02, LAX Files (3.59), 4*
One thing you have been able to bank on with The Game after his previous projects is that he shall record a track that will feature the title of the album, and what I am happy about with 'LAX Files' is that it comes literally, right at the beginning of the album and really informs you of his intentions on the album. 'LAX' is an emotional track, but with an interesting effect added to the vocals on the chorus this becomes a track for any occassion and if the rest of the album is anything like its namesake track we should be left impressed.
03, State of Emergency ft. Ice Cube (3.39), 3*
04, Bulletproof Diaries ft. Raekwon (4.52), 2*
05, My Life ft. Lil Wayne (5.21), 5*
Ice Cube is just one of many artists to feature on the album, something that The Game has previously been faulted for, and unless you are a real rap fan there are very few guest appearances on this album that will actually catch your interest. 'State of Emergency' is a track that you could hear banging out of someones car, but it would only come on as part of a playlist and not as someones choice. Raekwon is a former member of Wu-Tang Clan and relatively unknown, and 'Bulletproof Diaries' continues down a slippery slope. That is when everything changes, and 'My Life' shows what LAX truly is all about, as it features man of the moment in the shape of Lil Wayne (who currently holds the record for this years best selling album). 'My Life' has fast became my song of the summer, although it is almost over, and earnt legendary status in my mind for its powerful lyrics and any song that reminds me of Tupac Shakur's 'Ghetto Gospel' deserves an incredible amount of praise. Whilst I am not trying to say that The Game is 2Pac, what I am trying to say is that powerful lyrics about; Kurt Cobain, John Lennon and Eminem are bound to make a memorable track. Lil Wayne's vocals for the chorus do a lot for the song as well, this is in a similar vein to the chorus on 'LAX Files' and adds an addictiveness to the track. Of course with comments about burning pictures of Eminem and the deceased D12 member, Proof, the track has managed to cause controversy that The Game has been quick to come out and rectify. You can hate Lil Wayne's 'Lollipop' but still love him on 'My Life', and as the third track to be released from the album I am hoping this shall be his most successful single to date.
06, Money (5.13), 4*
07, Cali Sunshine ft. Bilal (4.33), 4*
Sampling vocals from soul singer, Betty Wright, 'Money' continues to supply the album with tracks that include infectous hooks. Whilst I do not usually appreciate hearing rappers singing about their money, 'Money' as a track is one of the most fun tracks I have heard in a long time. And probably makes for The Game's best effort on the entire album without a featured artist, although not technically true with the added vocals. Continuing the trend of fun tracks, 'Cali Sunshine' is a song to have you bouncing in your chair, featurnig the vocals of jazz singer, Bilal. Unfortunately the track comes a bit late to become the new summer anthem, although the track has the potential to live on until Summer '09.
08, Ya Heard ft. Ludacris (4.05), 2*
09, Hard Liqour (Interlude) (1.51), 1*
10, House of Pain (4.32), 2*
'Ya Heard' begins off sounding as though it could be another summer banger, but quickly drifts off into sounding almost the same all the way through. Unfortunately, after being known for adding so much as a featured artist on previous tracks, Ludacris does very little to improve this track. 'Hard Liqour' went completely over my head, and is more of a skit than anything, at this point I'm more interested in getting back to the good standard of music than listening to some jokes through music. 'House of Pain' will be the fourth single released from the album, produced by DJ Toomp -- the man behind many of T.I.'s biggest hits and worked with Kanye West on 'Graduation'. This is one of The Game's trademark hard hitting tracks, although compared to some of his previous hits you wonder why this was chosen as a single.
11, Gentleman's Affair ft. Ne-Yo (3.39), 4*
12, Let Us Live ft. Chrisette Michele (4.39), 1*
13, Touchdown ft. Raheem DeVaughn (4.00), 1*
Two faces you never would have put together back in 2005 would be The Game and Ne-Yo for their different music styles, and also because Ne-Yo didn't actually break on to the scene until 2006 (although it feels as though he has been around forever). The title of the track represents the two styles you would expect to collide, as Ne-Yo is well known for being a presentable R&B star with a large collection of love songs. 'Gentleman's Affair' is not as good as the other Ne-Yo featured track that appears on the Deluxe Edition, however it is one of the most listenable tracks on L.A.X. Chrisette is a Grammy-nominated R&B singer and continues down the trend at this point of the album with artists you wouldn't really expect to be making appearances, although Chrisette has previously worked with Jay-Z and Nas. 'Let Us Live' never really picks up, and is almost monotone all the way through. Raheem is another unknown artist, and 'Touchdown' is nothing more than gangsta love making music.
14, Angel ft. Common (4.28), 2*
15, Never Can Say Goodbye ft. Latoya Williams (4.40), 1*
16, Dope Boys ft. Travis Barker (4.01), 3*
'Angel' is the morning after the night before, opening 'Goodmorning, baby." The track is also the only one on the album produced by Kanye West. Whilst it sounds as though there is quite a lot going on in the background, it never takes off like a Kanye track should. Latoya Williams is interestingly an artist I know nothing about, but the intro to 'Never Can Say Goodbye' grabs my attention. Shame the rest doesn't. 'Dope Boys' wasn't the second single released from the album and features Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker. 'Dope Boys' failed to make any kind of impact on the US Billboard, although it still one of the better tracks. Think along the lines of Busta Rhymes clashing with Linkin Park.
17, Game's Pain ft. Keyshia Cole (4.22), 4*
18, Letter to the King ft. Nas (5.46), 2*
19, Outro ft. DMX (1.28)
'Pain' was the first track released from the album, and shows so much promise it's a shame there have been so many other singles pushed out that did not live up to the early promise. Whilst this and 'My Life' have made for excellent singles, the other two are questionable. Keyshia is most recently memorable for her appearance on a track with P Diddy. Nas's second featured appearance on the album comes in the shape of the longest song on the album, and as I'm not even a Nas fan you can forgive me for not getting excited about that. I feel for you if you can get through this track, and I don't even really know what it's about.
"The Game's won Round 3 by making his third straight album that's better than it has any right to be-- but the fact that the Game can make perfectly uncompelling cmopetence sound like victory is proof that he's a master thespian of hip-hop theater." - Pitchfork
"Let the top down, California's my birthplace, so I'ma take you there like BIG took niggas to New York."
Cool & Dre were mainly responsible for producing 'L.A.X.', not to be confused with Dr Dre who is unlikely to ever work with The Game again, however Cool & Dre should not be disregarded. These producers are the ones responsible for the shining moments on the album. I also have to mention J.R. Rotem who produces some good work on the album, the man who has worked with artists from 50 Cent to Britney Spears.
I'm unsure why everyone is so quick to jump on The Game as producing a terrible album, it's almost as though he's becoming the joke of the business. However, what he has created on LAX is quite a few gems with moments of boredom inbetween. That's still better than his last effort, and it would be a shame if a lot of this goes unheard. With his policy of apparently releasing almost every track before the albums even released, I think it's unlikely the album will go unheard.
Whilist 'Doctors Advocate' did have a lot of featured artists, it feels as though L.A.X. has returned to 'The Documentary' policy of having as many as possible. Coincidently LAX and Documentary also feature the exact same number of tracks, so maybe The Game is trying to recreate what he did so well on his debut.
Reviewers are insulting the guy, but they are still handing out good ratings come the end of the review. And although there are songs I never want to listen to again, there are a few I'm going to listen to over and over. If this is his last album, it will be interesting to see how he does as a producer, because his attempt at co-producing on 'Never Can Say Goodbye' didn't go that terribly. I just won't expect Eminem to be lining up to work with him.
"L.A.X."(Life and Times) is the third, and supposedly final, album by the Compton rapper, The Game. I say 'supposedly' because many rappers have claimed to be retiring in the past, but it doesn't happen too many of those times, so I doubt that an artist with only three albums under his belt and a record label with no mainstream artists will just call it quits.
2. "LAX Files"
The Game kicks the album off in a big way as he challenges all the fake thugs out there who have no idea of waht it's like to be subject to a Gangsta lifestyle; where your life is constantly under threat. With a haunting piano to back it up and the utilisation of the screwed techinque, you feel intimidated by the lyrics which he comes out with, making those who it is directed to question whether they should continue to do so.
3. "State Of Emergency" (feat. Ice Cube)
Finally, The Game gets a chance to rap alongside his life-long favourite rapper, ice Cube, and to make it extra special for him, he is given some throwback early nineties G-Funk to rap on. Although the originator of this sound, Dr. Dre doens't produce it, J.R. Rotem makes it sound just as authenic as you would like. Here you also get to hear the similarities from the two with their hardcore Gangsta Rap lyrics.
4. "Bulletproof Diaries" (feat. Raekwon)
From collaborating to a West Coast legend from N.W.A, he takes it to the East as he recruits Wu-Tang's Raekwon to help him in a track whihc has him rapping in the typical Mafioso Rap form which Brooklyn built-up through the nineties. The Southern producer (who specialises in West Coast Rap), Jelly Roll does the beat for this one, and seems to change his stlye up quite significantly with a smooth tune which has The Game and Raekwon compare their stories of living a Gangsta lifestyle in the cities which they represent.
5. "My Life" (feat. Lil' Wayne)
A big Hip Hip album couldn't be relased today without one of these: a collaboration with Lil' Wayne, and this is the one of this album (as he is featured on all the other big relases of the past couple of years in Rap and R&B). As with lots of the recent appearances which he has made, Lil' Wayne strays away from his rapping an instead sings for this one, and uses the T-Pain auto-tuner for added effect from a track which he had previosuly doen with Birdman.
This is an emotionly-charged tune by The Game which has him refer to tough subjects, such as having to cope without a father, due to his drug addiction. The Game takes influence from various sources, including topical issues, and you could probably guess the date of its recording by what is said concerning people such as Kanye Wst and Jesse Jackson, as well as the use of Lil' Wayne's phrase "We are not the same, I am a martian".
Thsi is the second, and final, Cool & Dre-produced track off "L.A.X." and has them provide an exciting tune which as the title sums up, is about "Money". The Game gets depe as he refers to all that can be done with currency and how it has shaped his by the decisions which he's had to make for it. I was impressed by the cutting of a short sample of someone simply saying the title to be used in such an inventive way to make up the chorus, which doesn't seem to lose its power, desite the repitition.
7. "Cali Sunshine" (feat. Bilal)
With foundations which have thte producer, Nottz, utilsing The Dramatics' "California Sunshine", The Game proforms a track which has him celebrate his ends and hw climate has effected the way of life for people way out West. Although I liked the main elemnets of it, with the Neo-Soul singer Bilal singing in the chorus, it didn't have enough power to be effective to the listener.
8. "Ya Heard" (feat. Ludacris)
Reading all about what has gone into this track (before actually listening to it), I was extremely excited as one of my favourite rappers, Ludacris, makes an appearance and Nottz is a big producer, with this he offers a sample of an Old School classic joint of Newcleus' "Jam On It", and it certainly didn't disappoint as they played around with this foundation and had it altered to a degree where you can' treally notice it. However you have a subliminal hint of fun from this sample, allwoing for a light-hearted track from The Game (making a change from his usual hardcore lyrics).
9. "Hard Liqour" (Lude)
10. "House of Pain"
This is to be the fourthsingle from the album and it has The Game rapping upon a beat beat by T.I.'s right-hand man, DJ Toomp, who has produced some of his biggest hits including "What You Know", "24's" and "U Don't Know Me". However, I didn't really feel as though I was getting the same sort of sound which he presented with T.I.'s (or other southern rappers') tunes in the past as it was quite a dark opne, but regardless of this it really work well with The Game's style of rapping as it gets you in the correct mood to listen to these tough raps.
11. "Gentleman's Affair" (feat. Ne-Yo)
An unexpected collabo in the album comes when The Game is jopined by the R&B singer about to drop an album entitled "Year Of The Gentleman", Ne-Yo, and this tune seems to fit in with his angle for the year. As The Game alters his typical ways for a short while, he comes with a nice and calm love song, which would only work with the aid of such an established name for R&B in Ne-Yo.
12. "Let Us Live" (feat. Chrisette Michele)
Scott Storch offers the production for this tune and yet again we hear a surprising change in what the producer is aminly known for doing. Aside from this, I thought that Storch really knew what what required to make a hard West Coast banger, and it's engery manged to come through as The Game rapped along to it in a relvant way. I thought that the singing from Chrisette Michele was the only downfall to it as it didn;t really suit the direction of the tune.
13. "Touchdown" (feat. Raheem DeVaughn)
You get a smooth track from The Game, making clear similairities with the earlier Ne-Yo collaboration,, "Gentleman's Affair", however this one was a bit different from this one as it seemed as though the guest here, Raheem DeVaughn took control over the track, and Game' hardly got any in, asa result it was more of a cool-down tune, to gve you chance to chill before he comes with harder stuff later on.
14. "Angel" (feat. Common)
I was pleased to hear Common make an apprearance on the album, but when you consider what this means for the artist, he is rapping alongside a figure who completel;y contrasts from himself musically (within the Hip Hop genre), but still manages to connect on a deeper level with their love for 'The Game'. With this thing which draws them together, they come with an incredibly strong Hip Hop track, switching from the direction of the rest of the album. Kanye offers the production with a clear sample of an '80s RB groove form Gil Scott Heron to give this one a retro feel.
15. "Never Can Say Goodbye" (feat. Latoiya Williams)
When I read that this one included samples of both Biggie's "Big Pppa" and the Isley Brothers' "Between The Sheets", I was excited as I expected to hear a nice and smooth track from Game, however, these were only little things which allowed Game to show his influences over the rests as he follow a similar delivery which Notorious B.I.G. did in "Big Poppa". Thsi track has lyrics whcih completely contrast from the beat, and as he himself had a part in producing it, it makes it a lot more personal to him, and when you get into the lyrics, you will understand why.
16. "Dope Boys" (feat. Travis Barker)
This is the second track off the album and it is a banger of a tune as it has The Game with a surprising collaboration with blink-182's former drummer, Travis Barker, performing together on some hard 1500 or Nothin' production. The drumming of Barker offers something unexpected from them, however the rock percussion seems to fit in with the raps which The Game performs. I felt as if The Game was taking influence from his idols as he grew, N.W.A, as this sounds like a modern version of "Dopeman".
17. "Game's Pain" (feat. Keisha Cole)
This is great track as it acs as the West Coast equivalent to Common's "I Used To Love H.E.R. (Hip Hop In It's Essence and Real), that way a classic as even in 1993, when it was released it showed that Common had realised changes in the industry to make it more mainstream, and Gangsta Rap, which originated out on the West, was seen as part of the negative downfall of Hip Hop. At the time Ice Cube rebelled against this by standing up for the West, and as The Game claims that Cube was his favourite rapper, he has taken it upon him to continue what he started, because Common served Cube the first time around.
I found this very intersting as it sems to go through a similar pattern to Common as he chronologically goes through the journey of this current form, but siginificantly he only focuses on rap (as this is one of four elements to Hip Hop, I felt it was quite ignorant to do so), but then again things are different out in the West, so he talks on wanting to be like his favourites at the time, such as NWA, Biggie, and surprisingly the Fresh Prince (as you wouldn't expect a gangsta rapper to be interested in some Philly Hip Popper like Will Smith.
18. "Letter To the King" (feat. Nas)
It's good to see more of The Game and Nas together collaborating because I loved the track off "Hip Hop Is Dead" called "Hustlers" as well as the more recent "Make the World Go Round", from Nas' "Untitled" release, and it's good to see if the quality continues in further progression of the pair on this Hi-Tek tune. It's an inspiring one from the pair with (as always) thought-provoking messages in the lyrics.
The 'Intro' and 'Outro' to this album has DMX offering his famous Prayers, which have featured on his own records. They must have a deeper meaning than what I can see in them (without spirtual belief), but they must have a high significance for The Game, to have them introduce and end his 'final' release.
I'm sure that The Game is extremly proud of this relase and should it be his final record, it is a good way to end it all. It seems as though with all of the variation through the album, he has managed to express everything which he needed to get out, and as there are so many tracks, he has been able to go about doing this in such a deep way.
If you are unaware, nearly thirty other tracks were recorded for this album, so you know that only the best have manged to come through to the final release of it. However I think that the choices were given in order to display the variation which he needed to give in order to make this album special.
I liked that The Game's maturity has come through in this album as oppsed to past ones, by this I mean that he has gone from an array of simple, obvious Gangsta Rap tracks, to fianlly settleing and being able to perfom his music, but in a way which allows him to address deeper issues as he goes into Consious raps as well as ones which challenge 'The Game' as a whole.
I think that's it's important to note that I never really liked The Game, but since I've seen significant changes in him (such as seeing him cry over Hip Hop), you know that he is passionate for what he does, and isn't just in it for the money as a lot of other rappers out there. It wouldn't have surprised me if he gave the album away for free.