Ranking the Best Game Albums

When you think about it, The Game is one of the most underrated rappers of the modern era.

Seriously, hear me out.

When he arrived on the scene in 2005, he single-handedly resuscitated the once-mighty West Coast scene, long before the Kendrick Lamars and Nipsey Hussles became synonymous with the region. He’s dropped songs that deserved to be mentioned as classics, noteworthy concept albums and has more than held his own in various rap beefs.

Yeah, folks tend to focus on the antics and name drops. But when it comes to the music, Game has been a potent, consistent force for the better part of 15 years.

Let’s look back at his career, ranking his albums from bottom to top. For the sake of this list, we’ll be skipping his array of soundtracks and mixtapes, focusing on solely his studio LPs – and I’ll throw in a compilation just for the fun of it. As always, rankings were determined by album quality, consistency, and impact.

Hate it or love it, the underdog is one of the West’s biggest stars. Show love.

10. Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf (2014)

Soul in Stereo rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: This isn’t a solo LP per se, so consider this one a bonus entry. If you haven’t heard of this set there’s a good reason for that – Year of the Wolf is a compilation that served as an appetizer for Game’s Documentary 2 album(s) and a showcase for his Blood Money Entertainment label. Despite a couple – like, literally two – really good songs here, it’s the definition of forgettable, feeling more like a random mid-00s mixtape than a proper release.

Forgotten favorites: “Bigger than Me,” “The Purge”

9. L.A.X. (2008)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: After two stellar albums, LAX was the first Game release that felt … merely OK. The attempts for mainstream appeal were pretty blatant, resulting in more than a few by-the-numbers records. And, as always with Game albums, the gargantuan length does it no favors, resulting in several dead spots. But when it lands, it LANDS – the MLK tribute “Letter to the King” still features some of the most touching bars Game has ever penned. There are a handful of wins here but LAX winds up pretty forgettable overall.

Forgotten favorites: “Money,” “Letter to the King,” “Game’s Pain”

8. The Documentary 2.5 (2015)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: There is a such thing as too much of a good thing. Case in point – Game’s Documentary 2 blew always all expectations, winding up as one of his greatest efforts to date. But then a week later, he dropped Documentary 2.5 on us, and while it’s certainly not bad – I enjoyed a lot of it at the time – it feels totally unnecessary. The original set was already a bit bloated but this one is definitely in need of gastric bypass surgery. However, there’s plenty of quality cuts here, with Game deftly upholding his role as the West Coast’s most prominent advocate.

Forgotten favorites: “Quik’s Groove (The One),” “Life,” “Crenshaw/80s Cocaine”

7. Jesus Piece (2012)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Here’s the point in our journey where the hate tweets will start showing up. 2012’s Jesus Piece has become a pretty beloved part of Game’s discography and, no doubt, it’s pretty solid. Conceptually, thanks to Game’s heavy use of religious metaphors, it’s a win. But creatively? That’s when things get a bit uneven. This thing is LOADED with guest stars, many of whom phone it in and drag down the LP’s quality. Also, the churchy themes can get a little too silly, to the point of parody in some cases. Jesus Piece’s intentions are good – with a bit more focus, it would be even higher on this list.

Forgotten favorites: “Name Me King,” “Celebration,” “Heaven’s Arms”

6. 1992 (2016)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Like me, Game is an 80s baby and it’s nothing we love more than a heaping helping of nostalgia. That’s why 1992 shines – using the lessons of hip-hop’s golden era as cautionary tales for the modern era. The album reads like a love letter to rap’s glory days. 1992 also may be Game’s most concise release, never feeling bogged down with filler like most of his other albums. It probably won’t always resonate with younger audiences, but trust, if you know, you know. When it comes to 1992, you really had to be there to love it.

Forgotten favorites: “92 Bars,” “Baby You,” “True Colors/It’s On”

5. The R.E.D. Album (2011)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: I don’t get it. The R.E.D. Album seems to have a pretty suspect reputation in the world of Hip Hop Twitter. I’m fully aware of its shortcoming – its length and several unfocused tracks among them – but overall I think it’s a pretty underrated set.  Great concept tracks and furious bars elevate this one above several others on this list and was a solid rebound after the tepid response to 2008’s LAX. It’s certainly not Game’s best work but far from his worst.

Forgotten favorites:  “The City,” “Ricky,” “Born In The Trap”

4. Born 2 Rap (2019)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: I tend to side eye any artist who claims their current album is their last. How many rap retirements actually stick? Not many. Well, if this IS Game’s final album, he certainly didn’t go out with a whimper. Born 2 Rap’s ridiculous album cover and bloated 25-track runtime seemed like a disaster in the making, but Game happily proves doubters wrong. Despite the insane runtime, Born 2 Rap is surprisingly cohesive, blending great production with Game’s underrated knack for storytelling. Like its master of ceremonies, Born 2 Rap is loud and indulgent but too talented to be ignored.

Forgotten favorites: “Gucci Flip Flops,” “Cross on Jesus Back,” “Hug the Block”

3. Doctor’s Advocate (2006)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Stakes were high for Game after the critical and commercial acclaim of his debut release but he hopped in his 64 Impala and glided right by the dreaded sophomore jinx. Doctor’s Advocate was a worthy successor to The Documentary, featuring a bevy of solid singles and memorable album cuts that proved Game was far from a fluke. In some ways, though, it feels a little too much like an offshoot of The Documentary – even more so than Documentary 2 would a decade later. Pacing and slight repetitiveness aside, this is still one of Game’s standout releases.

Forgotten favorites: “Old English,” “Around the World,” “Why You Hate The Game”

2. The Documentary 2 (2015)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Sequel albums are almost always a bad idea. They just set unrealistic expectations — an artist typically can’t turn back the clock to his or her glory days. But don’t count out The Game, who abandoned his worst habits (no mimicking other rappers, no suspect production or pointless beefs) to give us arguably his best work since his landmark debut. Game pull no punches as he unleashes his fury over production by rap’s biggest composers. While the accompanying Documentary 2.5 album meandered, this was Game at his rawest — and most focused.

Forgotten favorites: “Standing on Ferraris,” “Don’t Trip,” “Made In America”

1. The Documentary (2005)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Turn back the clock a little more than 10 years prior to the release of Game’s debut and you’ll see a time when the West was hip-hop’s dominant force. Those days were long gone by 2005 but The Documentary helped change the conversation. Game’s ferocious rhymes and authentic West Coast production revitalized the coast and instantly made him a major player. As I’ve said like 400 times during this post, this one feels needlessly lengthy  – trim a handful of tracks from the middle and we’re talking about a near 5-star release. Regardless, it’s a clear turning point for West Coast rap and certainly in the conversation to be called a classic.

Forgotten favorites: “Put You On The Game,” “Like Father, Like Son,” “Higher”

Do you prefer Doc 2.5 over Doc 2? Pissed that Jesus Piece is too low and RED Album is too high? Let us know below!

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1 Comments

  1. I am going to be honest. I have always enjoyed The Game’s music.

    My favorite albums are:
    Doctor’s Advocate
    The Documentary
    The Documentary 2
    Born 2 Rap

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