The Doctor’s Advocate
he Game went from being one of the least interesting rappers ever to sell a million copies to one of the most entertaining in record time. Before he got dropped from G-Unit—ahem, before he decided to “leave”—he seemed nothing but a raspy-voiced sound effect, another intriguing waveform on an immaculately produced album, The Documentary, that was overflowing with them. Aside from his grim-faced reverence for rap titans and a hint of soulfulness, he had no discernible persona. Then he and 50 fell out and everyone veered off-script. Game miraculously sprouted a sense of humor and started issuing hilarious diss track after diss track, calling out everyone in his immediate vicinity and revealing himself to be a generally unstable psycho determined not to fade away before causing as much collateral damage as possible. He only got more morbidly compelling after being banished from Aftermath to the relative no-man’s-land of Geffen when Dre carefully distanced himself. He’s put out a shoe no one bought (Reebok Hurricanes), acted in a movie no one saw (Waist Deep), and alienated practically everyone responsible for his debut. His second album, The Doctor’s Advocate, is supposed to be the part where he vanishes into obscurity, falling flat on his face without Dre’s beats and 50’s hooks. Instead, amazingly, it sounds like an Event, coming off as one of the stronger rap albums of this admittedly piss-poor year.
Despite the fact that Dre had nothing to do with this project, the album sounds just as big-budget and lavishly appointed as The Documentary. Like his mentor, Game knows how to tweak the bone-rattling clap of the snare and play up the percussive aspect of keyboards. The single version of “One Blood” (produced by some guy named Reefa, who will now get more work) sounded tinny, scrappy, and bargain-basement; here, it scorches, the drums thudding like mortar rounds and almost obliterating Junior Reed’s siren wail.
Which is pretty much exactly the effect Game aims to have as an MC. Not much for punchlines or clever wordplay (he drops the knuckle-headed boast “So far behind me you can taste my rims” twice on this record), Game gets over on impact. “I’m sick, you niggas can’t get rid of me, I’m HIV,” he spits on the will.i.am track “Compton,” mowing down the beat so relentlessly that it doesn’t really matter that his words aren’t exactly witty. He’s particularly fond of plosives; these tracks are so full of hard-hitting p’s and k’s that you almost reach up to wipe the wet from your face. His breath control is tighter, and he doesn’t smother every beat with the same foursquare flow. There are a few laughable duds—the forehead-smacking line “Bounce like you got hydraulics in your G-string,” maybe the least erotic evocation of a jiggling ass ever put on record, comes to mind—but for the most part Game sounds desperate, raw, and ravenously hungry.
More important, he’s brought his personality—occasionally funny, disarmingly needy, a little lunkheaded—into the booth. In the Kanye West-produced track “Wouldn’t Get Far,” his surprisingly lithe, warm flow bounces off of West’s rubbery bass line as he calls out pretty much every girl to appear in XXL’s “Eye Candy” section over the past two years. “All these new video bitches trying to be Melyssa Ford / They don’t know Melyssa Ford drive a Honda Accord / She a video vixen but behind closed doors / She do anything to get to the Grammy Awards,” he rhymes. He pens a slightly blubbery open letter to Dr. Dre on the title track, and on “One Night,” complains about not getting “one hospital visit” after being shot, growling, “I’m supposed to enjoy this shit, but it’s quite clear / The last 12 months been a fuckin’ nightmare.”
Best of all is the nine-minute final track “Why You Hate The Game,” one of Just Blaze’s full-band extravaganzas. Nas drops a first-class verse over celestial choirs, cascading pianos, and gospel claps, and Game comes off something approaching sanguine regarding 50: “I just hold back, cuz we ain’t beefin’ like that / He ain’t Big and I ain’t Pac and we just eatin’ off rap / One love.” Of course, this won’t mean much in a month and a half, when Game suddenly restarts his beef because his album sales are flagging, but it’s a nice little moment at the close of what seems at times like Game’s first proper record, the first where he’s brought his sometimes sullen, sometimes brash, often wildly contradictory persona to the fore.