With his relevance at a low ebb, his new project, The Documentary 2, succeeds by reminding you what made the original so memorable. At his core, Game, 35, is a Compton hip-hop traditionalist, often reverent of the past to a fault. But at his best, he’s a powerful and deceptively agile rapper with an impeccable ear for beats and a contact list any A&R would envy. And he still has a lot to say: A week after dropping the 19-track sequel, The Game is releasing The Documentary 2.5, which he’s calling the second installment of a double-disc set.
In many ways, this is his version of Dr. Dre’s Compton album. It circles back to his beginning, adding crucial details lost in the quest for self-mythology. On “Dollar and a Dream,” Game admits he went from “underdog to watching Top Dawg and Kendrick rise.” And like Compton, The Game assembles his own Cooperstown of collaborators to retell his saga, including Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Future, Drake, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and Sean “Diddy” Combs -- on the first disc alone.
From DJ Quik’s “grooves” and Snoop’s WBallz interludes to “Don’t Trip” (featuring Los Angelenos Cube, Dre and Will.i.am over a classic J.B.’s sample), this might be the most elaborate homage to the Cali hip-hop Game worships. You can question its originality, but the music hits hard -- even with the inevitable bloat and sequencing issues that come with 36 songs, as well as outlier cameos that derail the album’s focus (Drake’s “100”).
Lupe Fiasco Responds to The Game Diss
The first Documentary was actually an action movie; a genre in which entertainment often trumps substance. Its sequel can’t re-create the same big explosions, but it cogently proves why its anti-hero has managed to stay alive, 10 years later.
Listen to The Game and more artists from this week's issue of Billboard.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of Billboard.
The Game - The Documentary 2 and 2.5 Album Review