Album Review: Game’s ‘The R.E.D. Album’
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Has any rapper ever been less concerned with his marketing appeal than Game? Since emerging in 2005 with his hit major-label debut, “The Documentary,” this Compton native has used his celebrity as a kind of bully’s-victim pulpit, laying out his grievances against an ever-widening circle of haters and manipulators. Yet for all the pity he seems to expect — for a troubled childhood, for his legal woes, for the disrespect of the music industry — Game rarely passes up an opportunity to appear more unsympathetic, be it through his exhausting name-dropping or his often groundless braggadocio. If he didn’t keep reminding you, you’d never know you were supposed to feel sorry for him.
In stark contrast with such charm merchants as Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, Game’s low likability is no impediment to his art; indeed, “The R.E.D. Album,” his fourth studio set, succeeds not in spite of his character flaws but because of them. In “The City,” Game reveals how little multi-platinum sales have done to satisfy his rampant need for approval; in “All I Know,” over a gorgeous Boi-1da production that sounds inspired by one of Kanye West’s collaborations with Bon Iver, his chest-thumping reaches a rather ill-advised apex: “money like Madoff, killing like Adolf.” Only a few tracks later, though, in “California Dream,” Game asks his engineer to turn the beat down so he can play what appears to be a field recording from the birth of his daughter. “The R.E.D. Album” orbits around contradictions like that. It might be the most compelling portrait of confusion we’ll hear from a rapper this year.
“The R.E.D. Album”
Three and a 1/2 stars (Out of four)