The Top Ten Failed First Singles Off The Game's The R.E.D. Album

This list began as a joke, but the longer I contemplated it, the more depressing its basic concept became. Consider: not only could I easily string together ten of Game's fruitless attempts to force label executives to release The R.E.D. Album, his followup to 2008's LAX; I had to make decisions about which ten to include. If you can think of a more damning condemnation of both commercial gangsta-rapper woes and major-label wastefulness, I'm all ears.

For mid-level major-label rappers like Game, keeping your fans satisfied while they wait impatiently for a product you keep desperately promising is right around the corner has become a melancholy fact of life. Unless you currently have at least two Top Ten hits currently floating in the radio-playlist soup, your album is a theoretical construct, no more "around the corner" than universal health care.

Indeed, for major labels, releasing rap albums has become a process frighteningly similar in outline to signing major legislation—months of dead space, a brief flurry of activity and heady promises, then, finally, inexplicable stalls, dashed hopes, and disillusionment. Repeat. There are several well-established coping strategies; for instance, mixtapes made of the latest scraps from the album's cutting room floor, a cost-eating and humiliating exercise for all involved and the album-release equivalent of showing up with an expensive present the day after you missed your kid's birthday. Other viable options include: ranting about your predicament on Twitter and wallowing in the sympathy of your followers; or working with any and every producer the label sends your way, in hopes that a Bruno Mars hook will finally bring mercy from the gods.

Game has tried all of these methods, except, it must be said, for pitching unseemly Twitter fits. The ultimate company man, he has kept admirably cool while the years pass by; instead, when asked about the delays in interviews, he responds with aplomb. In the meantime, he has been furiously recording with anyone and everyone, racking up studio-time costs.

It doesn't help, of course, that Game has the most water-soluble identity in hip-hop; whoever you place him next to is who he will sound like for those three minutes, and despite a discerning ear for quality production, he never sounds at home in his own songs. On some level, his label's instincts are right: The R.E.D. Album—which is now, for real, coming out on August 23 (or so Game claims)—will tank. The problem is that everyone involved has no idea what to do about it. Consider this list, then, a breadcrumb trail that results when a past-his-prime rapper and a major media conglomerate find themselves locked into a toxic, failed marriage.

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