Release Date: Oct 9, 2015
Record label: eOne
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock
The Game :: The Documentary 2 & Documentary 2.5Blood Money/eOne MusicAuthor: Jesal 'Jay Soul' PadaniaHaving become engrossed in "The Documentary 2" and the second disc "2.5" something finally hit me: I've never been to Compton. I've heard the word a million times, bought the albums, seen the films, and know all about where the city lies within the grand scheme of hip hop history. But I've never been to Compton.
After a steady stream of albums that fell short and got tripped up by their own ambition, rapper the Game returned with this unassuming Cash Money/Blood Money release marking the tenth anniversary of his great album The Documentary. Great news is The Documentary 2 sounds effortless and winds up awesome because of it, with singles like "100" featuring Drake and "Summertime" with its Mike WiLL Made It beat both coming off as cool-headed classics. Dre and Ice Cube show up for the key cut "Don't Trip," while appearances from Ab-Soul, Future, and DeJ Loaf prove the Game is up on current events.
It’s here. After months of song releases, updates, and teasers, Game dropped the first of the two installments of The Documentary 2. The Documentary sold five million copies and is considered by many to be a new-age West Coast classic. Ten years later, is the sequel more like The Godfather, Part II, or Rocky V? The title is appropriate; The Documentary 2 finds Game returning to his stomping grounds of Compton, California, in a more consistent and dedicated way than he’s done since his debut.
The biggest misconception about The Game is that he’s a failed pop star. The Compton rapper’s debut album, 2005’s The Documentary, marked the start of a new era for West Coast rap, a critical and commercial success thanks to songs like “How We Do”, “Hate It or Love It”, and “Dreams”. Ten years later, The Documentary 2 arrives as a sort of comeback album following 2011’s The R.E.D.
This year marked the 10th anniversary of The Documentary, meaning it's also been a decade of the Game reminding us he was once involved with a record that sold 5 million copies. "Involved with" feels like the right terminology: Given that the production credits alone list Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, Kanye West, Cool & Dre, Havoc, Just Blaze, Timbaland, Hi-Tek, Jeff Bhasker, and Buckwild, it would be extremely misleading to say Game "made" The Documentary.
The Game's sixth album, and the decade-late sequel to his multi-platinum debut, is mostly a chance for the Compton MC to treat the the last 25 years of West Coast rap as his own personal playground. Part high-concept (tracks flow as seamlessly as a hip-hop opera), part low-concept (the reigning master of the obscene hashtag can't resist a sex skit called "Sex Skit"), it's a valiant attempt to connect all the dots between the Los Angeles seen in Straight Outta Compton and the one Kendrick Lamar imagined on To Pimp a Butterfly. At two discs, 36 tracks and nearly two and a half hours, The Documentary 2 has the ambitions and emotional heft of a big-budget blockbuster.
The Game’s stock has been steadily plummeting since he released his highly-acclaimed debut, The Documentary, in 2005 with heavy backing from the biggest rap star on the planet at the time, 50 Cent, and the biggest name in West Coast rap production, Dr. Dre. Game was the perfect placeholder to fill important vacancies in their giant rap conglomerate — capable G-Unit stand-in, Compton-born Dre protege, potential California rap savior, next in line to further the G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath/Interscope rap dynasty.
Ten years before the release of the blockbuster film Straight Outta Compton, a young Compton emcee sporting an Eazy-E tattoo and N.W.A. chain brought hard-hitting California rap back into the mainstream with 2005's The Documentary. The Game attempts to follow that multi-platinum success with his seventh studio album The Documentary 2 and a surprise companion album released a week later.
The Los Angeles that The Game sees in 2015—the one he weaves through on his way to the airport, avoiding the freeway—is starkly different from the one he was promised 10 years ago. That’s when Jayceon Taylor was plugged into the Interscope machine and was tasked with turning demos for 50 Cent’s The Massacre into a blueprint for the West Coast going forward. L.A.
The GameThe Documentary 2Blood Money/eOneFeatures: Kendrick Lamar, Dej Loaf, Sha Sha, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, will.i.am, Diddy, Ab-Soul, Marcus Black, Jelly Roll, Q-Tip, Eric Bellinger, Future, Sonyae, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg,Production: The Mekanicks, Bongo, will.i.am, Jahlil Beats, Cool & Dre, Mike Will Made It, Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Cardo, Boi-1da Before the The Game made his debut in 2005, the future of West Coast hip hop hung in the balance.
Hip-hop is old and vast, but its institutional memory can be short. Long careers are tough to come by, and the genre’s mainstream is zig-zagging more quickly than ever. Given that, the continuing success of both the Game and DJ Khaled is striking, precisely because it bucks those trends. They are great aggregators, two artists serving as the genre’s internal nostalgists, as concerned with synthesizing its many divergent strains as with securing their own legacies.
Make no mistake, recording and releasing a double album is no ordinary task—it’s an ambitious undertaking. When done right, a double LP immerses the audience in new musical vistas, with the medium warranting seemingly unlimited space to facilitate unbridled creative ideas; ones that deserve to be heard and mulled over for years to come. However, when in the wrong hands, a double album could reek of pretension and egoism; overblown ideas, far-reaching conceptual elements without resolve, and an outwardly bloated disposition.