Reviews are a pain-free way of combining writing with what I love, in a way that generates interest. So I keep doing them loool.
Entertaining and unstoppable, 36-year-old rapper The Game gets a lot done on his eighth studio release ‘1992’. Across the record’s varied tracklist of hood tales, socially-conscious lyrics and R&B-tinged love songs, the rapper’s versatility is made more evident than ever before.
For 'The Juice' The Game slips confidently into different rhythmic patterns in order to juggle the track’s irresistible production. He is heard scolding his industry competition, toasting his neighbourhood, professing a devotion to big backsides and honouring hip-hop’s biggest icons.
‘1992’ is designed to give people who didn’t grow up in Compton, California - like The Game did - an idea of what it was like to do so. Gang warfare scenarios are retold fluidly alongside lighter anecdotes from the emcee’s past. The album’s beats are spacious. They're rugged and lavish, though thankfully not overdressed. On a negative note, there are moments where the throwback-themed LP gets lazy and over-relies on samples, or interpretations of classic tunes to impact.
Also, the album’s vocalists every so often outstay their welcome. The only exception is Cameroonian-born, US-raised singer Lorine Chia, whose memorable, yet uncredited vocals crucially set the scene for a number of the project's tracks.
The candid, unaffected way The Game takes listeners back into his eventful past may be the most enduring thing about ‘1992’. The emcee does some impressive storytelling on compelling cuts ‘True Colors / It's On’ and ‘Young Ni**gas’. The latter is a relatively sentimental account of a pre-teen Game falling out with an unnamed childhood friend after he joins the Crips and The Game begins to associate with the Bloods.
‘The Soundtrack’ utilises a sample from New Jersey hip-hop producer Clams Casino’s ‘I’m A God’. Its usage immediately wraps the cut in soothing, dusky overtones - which even The Game’s steely, tenacious bars can’t disperse. Remembering time spent listening to Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ in his Grandmother’s house and being deeply affected by Tupac’s unceremonious passing, The Game shouts out his musical favourites on ‘What Your Life Like’.
Spitting lines about his junior prom, worshipping Method Man and having to wear his brother’s oversized hand-me-downs, ‘I Grew Up On Wu-Tang’ is another tributary effort. Laced with brassy tones and gentle piano licks, this cut’s instrumental is suave. Somehow, its more showy features don’t clash with the pounding hip-hop beat that dominates its low-end. Flexing his rap standing while prodding his peers with sharp, taunting wordplay, ‘However You Want It’ lays Soul II Soul’s ‘Back To Life’ over a paced, morphing trap beat.
With the help of an uncredited, impassioned appearance from Jason Derulo, ‘Baby You’ is a less essential version of the album’s Scott Storch produced bonus track ‘All Eyez’.
'Baby You’ is presented to listeners in a slick, old school R&B coating, and features The Game rapping directly to the mother of his children. 'Baby You' is one of several tunes on '1992' that prove the Compton star can still fulfil chart radio’s needs. On the whole however, the project's mainstream inclined cuts are only temporarily thrilling, especially 'Baby You'.
Hip-hop-R&B hybrid ’All Eyez’ features The Game and guest star Jeremih demanding more TLC from their respective conquests. ‘All Eyez’ is happy to rest within the boundaries of a pop record. Aside from some sexually explicit wordplay, it's a breezy, charming and harmless affair. The Game can’t resist comparing ‘Panda’ star Desiigner to Atlanta rapper Future on the track though. Plus, as 'All Eyez' ends The Game proceeds to eagerly namedrop the woman his racy lyrics are supposedly about.
’92 Bars’ is a hook-free, six-minute wonder that allows The Game to dazzle with his lyrical ability, and barrage through a range of different subjects. We find out that he’s looking to hook-up with Rihanna and Nicki Minaj immediately. He also name checks fellow Compton-nite Kendrick Lamar, and previous collaborator Kanye West. He later does the same for model/TV personality Blac Chyna - but for entirely different reasons.
And just in case his detractors didn’t get the message, the rapper even cuts the music and delivers his last bars acapella.