The Game: LAX

On LAX, The Game aims to achieve the status of the plethora of rappers he references in his rhymes. While this pursuit of greatness is admirable, the Compton-bred MC is still misguided on how to pull off such a feat. What started out as harmless homage on his first two albums (The Documentary and Doctor's Advocate) has turned into a borderline obsession with nostalgia. We get it, Game: You miss the good old days. However, some positives do come out of this constant reminiscing. In "Never Can Say Goodbye" — one of two tributes to hip-hop's deceased — The Game raps from the perspectives of Eazy-E, Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac; his grieving verbal gymnastics are reflected in the track's eeriness. Though the album's production roster is top-notch, it's marred by one too many guest features (15 of 19 tracks) and bogged down by the N.W.A. enthusiast's incessant need to filter his subject matter through a gangsta prism. To wit, when The Game does deviate from the status quo, as on "Letter to the King," the rapper hints at what he could contribute if provoked to think more outside the Glock. As practically Compton's lone hip-hop soldier these days, The Game's efforts to duplicate the Left Coast classics he grew up on are admirable. But if he ever hopes to rank among those he often recalls in his rhymes, he's going to have to learn to stop rehashing history and create his own.

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