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The Game: LAX

Bad-boy rapper fails to raise his, er, game. There is something peculiarly insecure about The Game (AKA Jayceon Terrell Taylor).

Rating: 5 / 10

Kilian Murphy, 08 Sep 2008

The West Coast MC’s persistent on-record name-dropping rarely resembles the playful pop commentary one suspects he intends it to be; rather, he seems disproportionately in thrall to rap music’s legends and contemporary greats. This apparent inferiority complex sits uncomfortably with the braggadocio evident elsewhere on his records, and he quickly starts to sound like a little boy trying desperately to fit into a world of men.

LAX is Game’s third record and he seems just as awestruck now as when he first emerged. The first track, for example, is an introductory prayer delivered by DMX. While several top MCs have kicked their own LPs off with guest verses, the device is usually akin to getting a support act to warm up the crowd and hype the main event. DMX, however, seems far more interested in bigging up God than rapping for his pal – and already one feels Taylor has relinquished a little of his record’s character to a stronger personality.

Production has never been The Game’s strong point. Here, the backing tracks tend to aim for drama over innovation – all thundering rhythms and sharp string stabs in an ‘In Da Club’ vein – but only occasionally do they hit the spot. ‘State Of Emergency’ is a ferocious, slamming slice of hip-hop with a wonderfully muscular guest verse from Ice Cube (who still raps with far greater conviction than The Game). ‘Ya Heard’ is the stand-out; a devilishly odd and creative production that fuses glitchy Warp techno with contemporary crunk-n-b.

In its third quarter, the record enters a squelchy, loverman R’n’B phase: the effortless swish and grind of ‘Angel’ provides this sequence’s only genuinely seductive moment. More than anything else, LAX suggests that it’s time for The Game to start making hip-hop history, rather than merely offering shout-outs to greats from the past.

Key Track: ‘State of Emergency’

Rating: 5 / 10
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