"NWA, Biggie, Tupac, Snoop and Jay-Z all had something to say. Then Biggie, Pac and Eazy died and it was devastating ... I feel like it's my turn now and I can fill the shoes."
The Game . . .
When word began circulating in 2004 that rap legend and Aftermath Entertainment mogul Dr. Dre had inked a recording deal with underground hip-hop sensation The Game, some worried that the move signaled a return to the bi-coastal feudalism that nearly decimated hardcore rap in the '90s. In an attempt to revive the West Coast's hip-hop dominance, would The Game grind salt into sensitive old wounds?
The speculators needn't have worried. The Game's hotly anticipated debut CD, The Documentary , introduces an aware rapper conscious of hip-hop history and deeply affected by the untimely deaths of his heroes, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls and NWA founding member, Eazy-E. So in-between his stark rhymes of urban warfare, The Game gives shout-outs to hip-hop crews on both coasts.
Indeed, The Documentary 's title track features a brilliant chorus that invokes the work of West Coast idols like Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube and Tupac, as well as New York rappers like Biggie Smalls and Nas. With a musical philosophy that observes no turf or boundaries, it's no wonder The Game is the only West Coast member to be welcomed into 50 Cent's New York-based G-Unit crew.
Reaction to The Game's hard-hitting rap sound has been immediate. Fueled by the success of the single "How We Do" (featuring 50 Cent), The Documentary bolted to the top of the pop charts. Adding to the disc's appeal are production contributions by Dre, Eminem, Kanye West, Timbaland and Just Blaze, and performances by Eminem, Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Marsha, Nate Dogg and Tony Yayo.
In reviews, The Game was all but knighted by the media. In its critique of The Documentary , Rolling Stone magazine wrote: "Every song has a well-massaged hook and some immediate appeal ... (The Game goes) for emotional impact rather than dazzling wordplay or laughs." New York's Daily News hailed The Game's sound, which "boasts that classic Dre bounce, with tracks that feature the grinding club grooves that fired Snoop Dogg's early hits." Entertainment Weekly was succinct but direct in its praise. To wit: "with the brightest hip-hop stars aligning for him, the Game may have willed himself a popular masterpiece."
Born Jayceon Taylor, The Game changed his hustle to rap after his gang-banging exploits landed him in the hospital. Now a breakout star, he's already revealing a maturity that promises to make him one of hip-hop's all-time greats.
"I gave all I could to this album, it's me," he says. "Enjoy it because it's the last time I'm living it. As humans we grow and the next album will be about how I'm living now — and I'm loving life."