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The Game - Doctor's Advocate Review

The Game - Doctor's Advocate

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By Renato Pagnani

The Game - The Doctor's Advocate

The Game - Doctor's Advocate © Black Wall Street / Geffen

You've probably heard about Game's much publicized feud with G-Unit General 50 Cent. Without his mentor-turned-rival by his side, fans are anxious to know if Game is able to conquer sophomore jinx on his own. A question the California flagbearer attempts to answer on Doctor's Advocate.

The Games They Play

Jayceon Taylor is probably the least authentic gangster rapper since, well, his make-up wearing, sequin-sporting former mentor (we haven't forgotten, historical revisionists). The irony is that at the moment, the musical output of Taylor, better known as The Game, has been better than that of actual supposed hustlers. Which brings up an important question: does a rapper's authenticity affect their craft? Hip-Hop in particular has always had a fixation with an artist's "realness." Long has it been the duty of "real" emcees to expose and expunge "fake" emcees from the game. But nary a soul would have dared call out Tupac for flipping his script upon Suge's tutelage. Recent hipster darlings Clipse have become the premier purveyors of crack rap, refining their wordplay and penning sophisticated metaphors that quite literally leave other rappers in the dust. Even Lil' Wayne has made a claim to be the greatest rapper alive, and these days that doesn't seem as laughable as it might once have. Whether these artists have ever so much as littered in their lives doesn't matter; their lyricism demands respect, not their resume sheet.

All Eyes on Game

Without Dr. Dre aboard the project and manning the, er, boards, speculation whether Game could top his debut The Documentary, or even release a sophomore album, ran rampant among fans and naysayers alike. Well, Doctor's Advocate has arrived—-just on Geffen, and not Aftermath. And instead of Dr. Dre, you've got a plethora of impersonators, all who admirably simulate, but never quite replicate, the doctor's signature sound. For an album with no Dre beats, the producers manage to saturate Doctor's Advocate with the west coast sound. Game and will.i.am cruise through the streets in a '67 Impala on the hard body "Compton", where the breaks don't cause minor whiplash but snap necks. "Remedy" finds Just Blaze continuing his recent foray into old-school revivalism by turning Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" into a veritable west coast anthem. Swizz Beats' stark minimalism on "Scream on 'Em" both allows Game to flex his updated rapping acumen and proves to Eminem that you can produce dark, ominous tracks without them sounding like industrial (no Trent Reznor) disasters. When the producers Dre-ify their beats, the results range from uncanny (Hi-Tek's "Ol' English") to cheap imitation ("Bang") to this-has-to-be-a-Dre-beat (either of Scott Storch's tracks).

More of the Same

Since the release of The Documentary, The Game has shed his puppet-by-the-strings persona and become a living, breathing person, not to mention a markedly improved rapper. Game still namedrops like his audience suffers from Alzheimer's, but this time there's a pervading uncurrent of old-school reverence; instead of sounding like a shallow game of legitimacy-by-association, it seems Game genuinely idolizes the legends he so often mentions. What is the point of referencing Rakim or Eazy-E if the majority of the fifteen-year-old wannabe thugs who buy Game's record have no clue they are? Game wants to make his own Illmatic; what better way to do that than bring Nas out for a standout guest spot ("Why You Hate the Game")? There's little chance Game didn't recognize the source of the vocal samples Kanye brings back on "Wouldn't Get Far"; let's just say the common thread is Nas.

The gangster posturing and requisite raps about bringing the west coast back, gang affiliation, and the trife life consist the brunt of the topical variety on Doctor's Advocate. Game isn't re-inventing the wheel, he's just adjusting the size of the rims and maybe the paint job on the vehicle the wheels are attached to. The at times (read: 75% of the time) clumsy wordplay hasn't totally disappeared, but it's been supplemented by candid me-against-the-world tirades. When Game revisits the drunken rap concept from "Start From Scratch" on the Busta-assisted title track, his pangs of regret reveal a human side not often heard in gangster rap.

A Walking Contradiction

The Game is caught between opposing loyalties ("I'm not asking you to take my side in the beef, but you told me it was okay to say 'fuck the police'") and a conflicted sense of integrity that causes more problems than solutions. Somehow, he manages to make us empathize with his plight while still upholding his gangster image. He even finds time to discover a sense of humor not present on his debut on songs like "One Night" and "Let's Ride (Strip Club)". Game won't be mistaken for Ludacris anytime in the near future, but his humor adds much-needed dimension to a rapper that could have easily started to wear his welcome out.

The Bottom Line on Doctor's Advocate

For The Game, losing Dr. Dre's services is a double-edged sword. From Game's perspective, it's like losing a father. In reality, it's probably more akin to Obi-Wan Kenobi's death in 'A New Hope.' Which would make Game Luke Skywalker and Fiddy Darth Vader. Which would make 50 Cent Game's father, and that's more incestuous than I intended this analogy to be. But somehow, it's still fitting. To continue with the analogy: if The Documentary is 'A New Hope,' that would make Doctor's Advocate 'The Empire Strikes Back,' where Game must establish himself on his own, without guidance of former father figures (the good doctor that gave him life) and friends (50 and his pop sensibilities), and resurrect an empire (the west coast).

And that's real.


Top Tracks from Doctor's Advocate
  • "Compton"
  • "Remedy"
  • "Doctor's Advocate"
  • "Wouldn't Get Far"
  • "Ol' English"
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