The Game: L.A.X. (Album Review)

The Game’s alpha male A-type personality and aggressive approach obviously didn’t fall in line with G-Unit’s pecking order. But as a solo artist, it’s these attributes that have allowed him to carve out a unique path in the industry. He’s the Cali rapper with the New York swag.

He’s lyrically talented and street enough to have made the whole G-Unit fiasco a distant and almost forgotten memory. Unfortunately with the release of his third and supposedly final release L.A.X. (Geffen), The Game falls short of nailing the three-peat of critically acclaimed albums.

On the introductory “LAX Files”, The Game puts it down for the Westside story that Hip-

Hop fell in love with back in the late eighties when N.W.A. introduced it to the world: “Ni***’s think because they watch Menace a couple times / Seen Cube in Boyz In The Hood and then press rewind / That you could survive when a real Crip run up on ‘ya car and flex the nine / You must be out of ya mind.” The soulful hook that follows each verse and lurking keys feels like the classic Los Angeles gangster Rap that The Game has built his career on reviving.

There is a serious roster of heavy hitters featured vocally and behind the boards. The best production comes from the always in demand Cool and Dre. Songs like the power ballad single “My Life” featuring Lil Wayne and the mid-tempo “Money” with its electric guitars and Betty Wright vocal sample, shine as two of the better produced songs on the album.

“Bulletproof Diaries” is an interesting pairing between The Game and Raekwon. Lyrically this unlikely duo feed off each other well, but the Jelly Roll produced beat is disjointed and too busy. That California sound of lazy horns, keyboards, and thumping bass, is layered with video game like blips and bongs. It makes for an odd combination.

Although the album does have its bright spots, there are too many mishaps for this to be his last. The plethora of collaborations hurt the album more than it helped. The track “Angel” with Common, which is accompanied by a surprisingly unimpressive Kanye beat, and “Touchdown” featuring Raheem Vaughn, don’t fit the initial energy and aggression that L.A.X began with. Furthermore the R&B sound seems to be outside of Chuck Taylor’s comfort zone as “Game’s Pain” with Keyshia Cole also fails to leave any real lasting impression.

The decision to diversify his features and beats didn’t always go over well despite the valiant effort. Lyrically he is one of the top players in the game but it’s disappointing when that is overshadowed by desultory production and all but strange collaborations. L.A.X. has its moments but it has to be more thorough if this is Game’s parting gift to Hip-Hop as an emcee.

The Game Featuring Keyshia Cole

"The Game's Pain"

The Game Featuring Lil Wayne

"My Life"