An album that starts with a taste of the whip—a little snapping electric fillip—makes its intentions plain enough, and doubtless the rap-gone–Grand Guignol posturings of the Game’s sophomore outing will please abuse junkies, even if deposed (or deposing) former mentor 50 Cent has predicted dire results. But Doctor’s Advocate isn’t really all that dire, especially if you can get past the constant—and constantly labored—airing of, shall we say, grievances. (Especially the incessant, already legendary name-dropping of other former mentor.) The Game’s bringing-West-Coast-gangsta-back game plan tends to reveal an obsessive hung up on proving the world at large wrong before the world at large has really even said anything, so best of luck sorting out who, exactly, is meant to be slagged off by any given lyric, or the precise level of malice implied by any given utterance of “nigga,” which the Game can encode with endlessly varied intonations and implications. Kanye West’s guest vocal on “Wouldn’t Get Far” is the disc’s claim to a canonical hip-hop moment, but Game-wise, it’s musical revelations like the piano lurking beneath the high-frequency scratches of “Remedy” or the remonstrative female choir cutting through “Da S***” that linger. For all Advocate‘s bluster, those subtle displays of command better serve Game’s insistence that he’s not gut- and guileless. Not that we suggested he was.