By Jacob Guerra | The Duquesne Duke
The Game is no stranger to featuring well-known artists in an effort to hype his work. This practice goes all the way back to his 2005 debut studio album, “The Documentary,” which featured 50 Cent, then one of the world’s biggest rappers, on three of the tracks in a successful effort to gain critical acclaim.
Since then, he’s nurtured this practice, including other stars on his records in a shaky attempt to keep his relevance in a post-50 dominated world.
One of The Game’s newest works, “The Documentary 2,” is no exception. Released Oct. 9, only about a week before its counterpart, “The Documentary 2.5,” the album sports huge names in the rap game today including Kendrick Lamar, Future, Drake and Kanye West.
Because both of The Game’s newest singles on Spotify come from “Documentary 2,” it’s pretty clear that it’s the album made for the market. Whether this was intended or not, the relevancy of the features on “Documentary 2” inevitably places “Documentary 2.5” in the former’s shadow, featuring less-current names like Nas and Lil Wayne.
The artists on “Documentary 2” also overshadow The Game, though it’s more through their performance than their relevancy.
Take for example “On Me,” the second track on “Documentary 2.” It’s not surprising that Kendrick Lamar, who’s achieved continued success after releasing “To Pimp a Butterfly” in March, is featured early in the album.
The Game tries to capture Kendrick’s fans early on, and this would be okay if it were not for Kendrick stealing the show with his modern style. While The Game raps in a monotone voice, Kendrick comes in with a catchy mix of singing and rapping characteristics common in many successful rappers today. No matter how fast The Game raps afterward, he can’t seem to recover from Kendrick’s prominence on the track.
The trend continues with “Dedicated,” featuring Auto-Tune rapper Future. The song begins with Future singing in his signature style. He says his iconic “Future Hendrix” right afterward, and at that point the song’s branded as his. The Game’s classic rapping on the track just can’t counterbalance Future’s timely aesthetic.
So it’s no surprise that the song featuring Future-counterpart Drake also leaves The Game struggling to hold his own. Though “100” is The Game’s song, Drake’s performance is its cornerstone. His technique is too catchy to match; The Game’s monotone raps just sound outdated against his on such a modern trap beat.
It’s a tragic song; the technique The Game uses to get noticed ends up stunting him. The same could be said for superstar Kanye West’s feature on “Mula.” The Game’s numerous “Ye” references paired with the feature ultimately make Kanye the song’s centerpiece.
Because a majority of “The Documentary 2” has features, The Game’s solo tracks ultimately suffer. Tracks like “The Documentary 2” and “New York, New York” are sandwiched between the features, coming off as comparatively uneventful.
The beats on The Game’s solo tracks also feel stale signaling that all the good ones were saved for the feature tracks. Without a feature or unique beat, The Game sounds naked on his own album. And it certainly doesn’t help that he has almost no producing credit to be found; it inhibits his own personality from coming through.
His nakedness also comes from his failure to change his style to bring something new to the equation. He goes out of his way to feature innovative artists, but yet continues to recycle a familiar sound. In this way, he acts as more of a guest on “The Documentary 2” than the actual guests themselves. This makes it unclear who this “documentary” is actually about.
Still, the album may be worth it to fans of the extra rappers featured, if not for The Game himself. Though The Game does not come through, at least he gives a canvas to others, better rappers, to work through. Still, The Game needs to find his own voice soon if he is going to survive in the modern day rap scene.
“The Documentary 2” and “The Documentary 2.5” are both $9.99 on itunes.