The Doctor's Advocate: The Best West Coast Hip Hop Album Since All Eyez On Me
Over the last year and change since The Documentary dropped,the Game has seemed hell-bent on surpassing Cam'ron and Jim Jones for the title of most bizarre personality in hip-hop. First, there was the break-up with 50 Cent and G-Unit, despite the Game's ridiculous "G-Unit for life boasts" throughout his debut. Then there was the seemingly limitless arsenal of follow-up diss tracks, where the Game seemed powerfully insane and needlessly vengeful, like a rap Capt. Ahab. Albeit, one willing to call out Moby Dick for having low Soundscan numbers.
There was the break-up with Dre, the head-scratching exodus from Interscope to Geffen, and the reportedly savage beatdown of Rass Kass. Most recently, the Game launched an affront to Jay-Z, advising him to change Kingdom Come's release date, lest it not go up against the Doctor's Advocate. All this in spite of the fact that The Documentary was only good not great, a triumph of strong production and big-name guest appearances, paired with capable but unspectacular rhyming. The Game's strange behavior seemed to point towards one of two things: clinical insanity or actual manifestations of greatness.
Indeed throughout his short career, the Game has frequently proclaimed his greatness, telling anyone within earshot that he's the "King of the West Coast," and the successor to Eazy-E, Dre, Snoop, 2Pac, Ice Cube and N.W.A. But with The Doctor's Advocate, The Game finally has backed it up with a classic album, one that places him as the rightful heir to the throne. Filled with strong raps, incredible beats and almost no filler, Doctor's Advocate is the best west coast hip-hop album of the last ten years.
The Album Is Endorsed: The Shoes Are Not
This album is the rare commercial blockbuster hip-hop album that actually delivers. It will inevitably soundtrack everything from cook-outs in Compton to midwestern frat parties and all points in between. Somehow, every gamble that the Game has made over the last year seems to have been the right one. Who needs Dr. Dre when you can choose from the best beats that Scott Storch, Kanye West, Just Blaze and Hi-Tek have to offer? Hell, even Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas turns in a surprisingly rugged and street-friendly beat, with his Eazy-E and Apache-sampling "Compton." As expected (at least by me), the LP benefits from 50 Cent and G-Unit's absence, as Curtis Jackson's sing-songy hooks and mumbled lyrics have long-since grown since stale.
Unlike most contemporary hip-hop albums, one of The Doctor's Advocate's strengths is its surprising consistency. So much so that other rappers should study it as a model for how to construct a stunningly listenable album. Rather than kick things off with a trite and bombastic opening skit (there are thankfully no skits at all), The Game wisely chooses the ringing bells,thudding bass and ominous menace of "Lookin' at You," produced by someone named Urban EP Pope. Its second track "Da Shit," is much in the same vein, gangster braggadocio over a pulverizing West Coast beat, one tailor-made to be bumped at an ear-pulverizing volume.
From there, it's the Junior Reid-stomp of "One Blood," which you've all probably heard, as it's one of the few decent hip-hop songs to get radio airplay. Next, comes the aforementioned "Compton," which somehow gets a great beat from the same man who made a song called "Fergie-a-licious," the Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am. "Compton" shows off The Game's improvement over the past year, as his voice has morphed into a versatile and agile hybrid of Nas and Dr. Dre. Effortlessly switching rhyme styles and schemes, the Game is the all-too-rare "gangsta'" rapper who can actually rap. And while the lyrics are never spectacular, they're always capable and interesting. The Game still name-drops too much, but you're willing to forgive him given his Jim Jones/Camron-esque talent for always making you pay attention, lest you don't miss his next jaw-droppingly weird announcement. After all, this is the guy who announced that he found his long-lost sister on Myspace.
Odds that 50 Cent Advised Game to Pose Shirtless on the Cover: 99.99%
Surprisingly, there are few overt plays for mass appeal. The Just Blaze-produced "Remedy" sounds like a sequel to Snoop's "Serial Killa," "Scream On Em" sounds like the soundtrack to a gangland beat-down, and "Old English" isn't about popping "bub in a club." Unlike his former protege 50 Cent who seems wholly consumed by sales figures, The Game continues to grow more fierce with each moment in the limelight. Instead of releasing cynically-minded singles like "Candy Shop" or "Magic Stick," The Game dropped "One Blood," and the Scott Storch-produced "Let's Ride," making him 2 for 2 thus far, with ample songs on reserve. "Too Much," the album's other Scott Storch track is an ideal candidate for single #3, with a Nate Dogg hook that begs for airplay. and makes me hopeful that better times are in store for our country.
But Nate Dogg isn't the only classic West Coast veteran to appear on Doctor's Advocate. Somehow, The Game manages to get Xzibit, Snoop, Daz and Kurupt to spit their best guest verses in years. In fact,every guest on the album (with the exception of Jamie Foxx...clearly) sounds at the top of their game. Kanye West turns in an outstanding beat and a solid verse on the "video vixen" calling out "Wouldn't Get Far." And on the album's finale, "Why You Hate the Game," Nas gives hope that Hip-Hop is Dead won't be a bust.
With his second album, The Game has done what seemed impossible: making a great West Coast Gangsta' Rap album with the feel of 1994, in the year 2006. The Doctor's Advocate is a worthy sequel to albums like The Chronic, Straight Out of Compton and Doggystyle. Such high praise may seem like hyperbole, but when the dust settles, Doctor's Advocate will be regarded as a touchstone of West Coast hip hop. At times, you may be tempted to roll your eyes when the Game proclaims that he's "the king of the west coast." But after all, Muhammed Ali was right: It ain't braggin' if it's true.
Download: The Game-"Compton" from Doctor's Advocate (right-click, save as)
Download: The Game-"Let's Ride" from Doctor's Advocate (right-click, save as)
And go to Notes From a Different Kitchen for the Kanye West track
"Couldn't Get Far"