For someone who isn’t even on Doctor’s Advocate, Dr. Dre gets mentioned on The Game’s new album more often than any other person. In practically every other song, The Game finds another way to simultaneously pay tribute to the mega-producer who made him a star, while emphasizing the fact that it was more than just success by association. The Game’s first album, The Documentary, was a fantastic reminder of the kind of energy that only a debut album can produce, where the artist has nothing to lose and everything to gain, and in which every track hast to mean something because filler just won’t do.
Doctor’s Advocate is a triumphant return for The Game, one that can easily bear comparison to his debut. In contrast with 50 Cent’s overproduced and underwritten sophomore release, The Massacre, The Game provides proof that he has grown as a rapper. His technique has improved: His rhymes are fluid, his voice is more confident, and his stories are more engaging because of the way he piles rhymes on top of each other. Behind him, the beats are supplied by a hodge-podge of hip-hop’s best producers, each bringing their own styles and quirks into the studio. The amazing thing is how The Game is able to adapt to the different type of delivery that each piece of music demands. Listen to him on “Let’s Ride,” a funky, rhythmic selection, courtesy of producer Scott Storch, where he sounds so confident and assured. In “Wouldn’t Get Far,” the token Kanye track, he delivers perfect rhymes, sustaining the song despite the grating hook that Kanye chose to include. He muses beautifully on the album’s last track, the mega nine-and-a-half-minute “Why Ya Hate the Game,” right next to Nas, one of hip-hop’s living legends. Set against a mournful melody, The Game poignantly and aggressively touts his predecessors, both acknowledging his debt to them and establishing his own goal to be the next best to his heroes like Eazy-E, 2Pac, and Notorious B.I.G.
With this album, The Game has shown himself to be something much more than merely a protege of phenomenal rappers and producers. Here, he truly delivers, understanding that in hip-hop, people’s memories are short, and their expectations are almost always large. The Game has embraced that and has come out with a sophomore album that bears comparison to the debut that made him a star. Despite the typical bragging and self-aggrandizement that many have come to expect from a rapper, The Game is always an attuned and proud carrier of hip-hop’s rich cultural and musical tradition. He understands where he came from and what got him here. He acknowledges his debts willingly, often spitting allusive rhymes that come from the classic hip-hop albums of the past, knowing that loyal fans will truly understand what he is trying to accomplish and how much he wants to succeed. He has proven that he does indeed have the talent that so many have questioned. Now, there can no longer be reasonable doubt.