You can’t make this stuff up. Clumsy but promising LA rapper with embarrassing past signs with Dr. Dre, who puts him together with G-Unit. Rapper’s gruff bark doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly with smooth G-Unit menace, but rapper still enthusiastically embraces his new spot, yelling out the click’s name every chance he gets and starting meaningless beefs with meaningless rappers, all of which makes for some great entertainment. Rapper eventually releases album, which turns out to be a classic even though he’s not great at rapping by any stretch of the imagination, just because Dre pours dizzying levels of money into the record and makes or outsources a collection of molten widescreen beats. Soon after album’s release, 50 Cent kicks rapper out of G-Unit over some imagined disloyalty in what may have been a masterfully orchestrated publicity stunt, which leads to some guy getting shot outside Hot 97. 50 deads beef at ridiculous press conference a week later, but rapper reignites it in spectacular and insane fashion at Summer Jam a few weeks later. For the rest of the year, rapper trades incensed and hilarious dis tracks with G-Unit. Somewhere along the line rapper somehow becomes great, turning into someone capable of spitting fifteen straight minutes of infantile insults and keeping it entertaining throughout. Oh, and rapper makes Waist Deep and gets a butterfly tattooed on his face. He’s barely two years into it, but Jaceon Taylor has already had one of the weirdest careers in rap history.
And now he’s back. Game’s been saying that The Doctor’s Advocate is going to be a classic album for months now, but he’s always looked a bit dubious. The Documentary relied completely on its million-dollar beats and occasional 50 Cent hooks, and despite his newfound skill and fire, there’s been no way of knowing whether Game would be able to carry an album by himself. Well, we still don’t know, but the first single just leaked, and things are looking good. “One Blood” is an absolute banger, the equal of just about anything on The Documentary (Nah Right has the mp3). The track is built from a Junior Reid sample, but it’s a great example of the sort of operatic, overstated melodrama that the Diplomats haven’t been able to get right since “Get Em Girls”: huge off-kilter drums, scenery-chewing strings, a synth line that never stops sawing away. Game mentions Dre a few times on the first verse, but the track was actually produced by Reefa and Game himself. And Game comes hard as fuck, making threats and speaking with absolute derision about everything he doesn’t like in rap right now: “Turn on the TV and all you see is the A / You ninjas better make up a dance and try to get radio play / Keep snapping ya fingers, I ain’t going away.” He threatens to shoot Lil Jon, presumably just because he doesn’t like Lil Jon’s music, and he even throws a pretty direct subliminal at Jay-Z: “You 38 and you still rapping?” (Edit: I’m told that Game isn’t really talking about shooting Lil Jon, that it’s a sign of respect to lick off a shot when someone’s onstage. But Game certainly seems mad about the whole snap music thing, which Lil Jon is definitely riding right now. Wilson thinks it’s ambiguous. I honestly have no idea.) And then he goes on to allege that he has no beef with either Jay or 50, which is probably intentionally ridiculous; we all know he has a beef with 50. There’s no chorus; he just lets the sample keep playing for a few bars and then resumes the growl. It’s a harsh and unforgiving track, a strange choice for a first single, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the events of the past week.
Earlier this week, the infamous episode of the dating show Change of Heart that a pre-fame Game appeared on finally leaked to YouTube. Elliott Wilson already described the whole thing (edit: Wilson also beat me to writing this column by like an hour). There are no surprises on the show, but it warrants mentioning that Game seems like a genuinely decent dude on the show. If you’re looking for embarrassing stuff, it’s there: Game’s girl says that he cries like a baby, he admits to giving a whole lot of stuff to her even though she’s clearly a complete harpy, he takes his date to a male strip club that his mother owns (?). The end of the show is the ultimate humiliation: Game holds up the “Stay Together” card while his girl holds up the “Change of Heart” card. But then, Change of Heart is pretty much the cruelest show in the history of television; even Fear Factor grants its contestants a little more dignity. Nobody ever walked off that show looking good. It took a whole bunch of couples that needed to break up in the first place and then preyed on their desire for low-level fame by putting them on TV. It was terrible. For his part, Game seems affable about everything, managing not to throw a tantrum at the episode and even shaking hands with his girl’s date. He’s a model of civility. But nobody cares about all that stuff, of course; everyone’s just looking for him to make an ass of himself. He needed to come back snarling, and he’s done it now. If he can maintain that level of fierce focus over all of The Doctor’s Advocate, he’ll be rivaling Ghostface and T.I. for the rap album of the year.
Voice review: Greg Tate on the Game’s The Documentary