The Documentary 2.5 (disc two) (to be released Oct. 16, 2015)
After spending the last few years Twitter-beefing with D-list rappers and releasing mediocre material (I still refuse to ride for that Blood Moon album), Chuck Taylor finally recaptured the fire he first showed 10 years ago with his revered debut album.
Game is so much more than an Instagram celebrity trolling for likes. Nah, at his core, he’s an MC, one of the best to call Compton home.
The first half of The Documentary 2 proved it. The second half of Game’s new set, dubbed The Documentary 2.5 is even more true to his West Coast’s roots than its predecessor.
The first disc’s strength lied in its soulful production. That’s still present here, with tracks like “Magnus Carlsen” and “The Ghetto” blending soul and jazz to serve as the sonic backdrop for Game’s storytelling. But disc 2 is far from a rehash of the first offering.
“Crenshaw/80s and Cocaine” blares like a blaxploitation symphony, with Game riding the notes with ease. And while he’s quick to glamorize hood life on the former, on “Gang Related” Game is much more down to earth. Backed by a simple piano, Game is given plenty of room to let his words take root:
A kid shot cause he raised his fist, my n***a
Fiends stealing cause they can’t get a fix, my n***a
Sharing needles, passing AIDS and s**t, my n***a
It’s f***ed up but I was raised in this, my n***a
There are lots of throwback to the original Documentary album as well – Game’s infamous drunken flow from “Start From Scratch” returns on “From Adam,” threatening everything that moves (“I can’t lie, every time I see Suge my heart beat/Cause I don’t know if I should dap him or let the hawk speak”). We also get a cool sequel to one of my all-time favorite Game tracks, “Like Father, Like Son,” the ode to his newborn son. Now 10 years wiser, Game shares wisdom to his children – and to the listener – about the joys of fatherhood. And yes, Busta Rhymes returns to drop random ad-libs (HOOOH!). That track bleeds into “Life,” where he admits “A real gangsta’s one who take care of his whole family/Like me, even though my baby mama can’t stand me.” The delicate balance of street life and family life has always been one of hip-hop’s most powerful messages.
If you read my review of the first Documentary 2 disc (if not, get your life together), you’ll remember that my biggest criticism was the album’s girth. At 75 minutes long, I swear that Lifetime has movies that are more brief than that. The second disc also clocks in at around 73 minutes, but unfortunately, it suffers a bit more under all this heft than the first disc. That’s probably because of the abundance of posse tracks – “My Flag/Da Homies” and “Moment of Violence” just feature too many throwaway guests for the listener to properly digest the material. “Gang Bang Anyway,” with Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, is a bit more palatable.
Instead of a million verses from Game’s weed-carriers, I wish we could have gotten more of the classic West Coast sound featured in the successive trio of “Quik’s Groove (The One),” “Outside,” and “Up On the Wall.” I don’t even mind that Game falls back into bad habits and steals DJ Quik’s delivery on “Quik’s Groove,” the second that beat hits you’ll be partying like 1992. And I won’t spoil the surprise of the guest narrator for those tracks – Snoop Dogg fans know him well.
From gang life to night life to family life, The Documentary 2.5 is a heartfelt love letter to the West Coast. But like its predecessor, Game gave us so many tracks that it’s hard for the great ones to breathe. While it’s a step down from the previous disc, Game proves that when he’s focused, he’s the West Coast’s greatest advocate.
Best tracks: “Quik’s Groove (The One),” “Life,” “Crenshaw/80s Cocaine”
3.5 stars out of 5