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Album Review: Game’s “Jesus Piece”

The Game

Game’s never been the type to shy away from any type of controversy, but there always seems to be a motive behind his actions, whether it’s taking shots at someone via punchlines or completely railing against them in general. Surprisingly to some, the controversy (because there has to be some kind, right?) for this album comes in artwork form. The cover, which depicts a Black Jesus on church-stained glass windows rocking a red bandana, tattoo teardrops, and a “Jesus piece,” did enough to make people pay attention yet again… and for good reason. Even by loose terms, the cover struck as sacrilegious, to the point where it became a real worry that some would shun his latest release due to it. You can’t judge people for their beliefs, but if some could get past the initial shock and actually press play, they’d find more quality music from Game.

Jesus Piece is Game’s last album with Interscope records, and although it’s touted as a concept album, it’s more accurate to say it’s a themed LP. There’s no running story to connect the thoughts (a la Kendrick’s good kid m.A.A.d city or The Roots’ undun), but there is a prevalent theme founded on the perception of church aspects through the eyes of the street. With that being said, there are several skits snuck throughout the play to illustrate this point, along with several songs that reinforce the same thing (and there’s not a more perfect example of this present than “Hallelujah” with Jamie Foxx and Jake One).

All of this wouldn’t matter if the album was bad, and it’s not by any stretch of the imagination. The feature-heavy LP – a double-edged sword at times –  has Game delivering the type of music his fans clamor for, but shifts gears at the appropriate time to stretch his content and show diversity. Even though “Scared Now” is one of the weaker album intros from Game we’ve heard, he gets the juice back with “Ali Bomaye” (a phrase which translates roughly into “Ali, Kill him!), trading bars with 2 Chainz and Rick Ross over production from Black Metaphor. After a hilarious skit, it continues into the Boi-1da/Maven Boys-produced “Jesus Piece”, in which Kanye and Common lend a quick hand to show a parallel between their lifestyles and the encrusted chain that’s inspired the album title.

STREAM: Game – “Jesus Piece” (feat.. Kanye West and Common)

The best parts of Jesus Piece, however, are when Game either takes a chance out of the blue, or when he turns aggressive when rhyming. A perfect example of the first is “Pray”, which features strong vocals from JMSN and a show-stealing verse from J. Cole, and “See No Evil” with Tank and Kendrick Lamar. In addition, there’s a legit flip of a classic D’Angelo song (“All That”) that features Lil’ Wayne, Big Sean, Jeremih, and Fabolous that deserves props. The second’s illustrated the best in “Heaven’s Arms” and “Freedom”, illustrating Game as he flips the switch and goes to work without the help of guest emcees.

STREAM: Game – “Pray” (feat. J. Cole and JMSN)

Even with the different aspects, Game manages to sneak in more substance and reflective lyrics in this album than he has in the past, and although some songs suffer due to the quality of the guest verse (King Chip’s verse in “Church”, for example), Jesus Piece is still a dope album. The production is solid, and each of the (many) cameos in this instance add to the replay value of the LP (and Game even acknowledges the fact he’s feature heavy in “Freedom”, a nice touch). Regardless of the controversy, when it all comes together, you get an album that’s well worth the purchase, whether in-store or online.

Rating: 8/10

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