Review: The Game - '1992'
Unstoppable and entertaining as ever, 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 more evident than ever before.
Confidently slipping into different rhythmic patterns in order to juggle the track’s irresistible production, ‘The Juice’ is the only tune in which the rap star openly flaunts it.
Still, on more than one occasion, the Californian is heard scolding his industry competition, toasting his neighbourhood, professing a devotion to big backsides and honouring hip-hop’s icons - all in a one verse.
‘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 - but rugged, lavish - though not over-dressed. That being said, there are moments where the throwback-themed LP gets lazy and over-relies on samples or interpretations of classic tunes to impact.
Also, although Cameroonian-born, US-raised singer Lorine Chia contributes effective, uncredited singing to ‘1992’ (her vocals crucially set the scene on a number of tracks), the album’s vocalists every so often outstay their welcome.
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 notably 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, braggadelic lyrics, ‘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 Jason Derulo, ‘Baby You’ is basically a less tempting version of the album’s Scott Storch-produced bonus track ‘All Eyez’.
’Baby You’ is presented to listeners in a slick, old-skool R&B coating, and features The Game rapping directly to the mother of his children.
While the cut is one of several that prove the Compton star can still fulfil chart radio’s needs, on the whole, they’re all just very temporary thrills - especially this one.
Backed up by Jeremih, hip-hop/R&B hybrid ’All Eyez’ has the boys demanding more TLC from their respective conquests.
‘All Eyez’ is happy to rest within the boundaries of a pop record, and aside from some sexually explicit wordplay, it's breezy, charming and harmless.
The Game can’t resist comparing ‘Panda’ star Desiigner to Atlanta rapper Future on the track though, and as the tune ends he 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 barge through a range of 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 accapella.