As a reprieve, one of the most startling tracks on L.A.X. follows immediately afterward. Over the groovy bassline and a simple synth loop of "Let Us Live" as provided by Scott Storch, Game puts on his best Nas impersonation as he flows off the beat with intricate and polysyllabic rhymes. The surprising part is the utter accuracy to which Game manages to duplicate Nas' style, to such a degree that you may feel compelled to check the album credits to ensure that Esco didn't contribute a verse to the track. Again, the typically tiresome namedropping of Game’s previous albums takes a life as he transforms misplaced adoration to an excellent and unique homage.
Game then plunges into an almost cynical and formulaic club song. "Touchdown" offers all the staples of a banger: catchy but simplistic lyrics, a relentlessly thundering bass, and incessant abuse of the clap. Otherwise, the song is average in every sense of the world, and offers one of the album’s lowest points.
On "Angel," Game teams up with Common and Kanye West, and the result is above average at best. Although Common sounds bored and flat during his introductory verse, Kanye's production and Game's temporary adoption of Common's delivery pick up the slack. Thematically, the song is an underwhelming sequel to the classic "I Used to Love H.E.R.," which Game blatantly references in the second verse.
The explosive single "Dope Boys," powered as much by Game's growling delivery as rising legend Travis Barker's dynamic drumming spin the album back into full swing. Easily one of the best tracks on L.A.X., there is a real chemistry between Barker's thrashing and Game's delivery, offering not only one of the best collaboration on L.A.X. but also one of the best songs of Game’s career.
A Tribute to Hip-Hop
On the penultimate song, "Game’s Pain," Keyshia Cole sums up in one sentence what Game has been trying to say the whole album; "I just wanna let you know/ I’m paying homage 'cause you’ve paved the way for me." Game underscores the central themes of hip-hop’s history and his deserved place in it, meditating on the struggles he's faced. Standing alone, the song isn't much, but it is effective as a concluding element to the album’s tone.
Disregarding a puzzling outro by DMX (who provides a similarly out-of-context introduction), the final track on LAX is easily its most powerful. "Letter to the King" illustrates the emotional, intellectual and artistic growth The Game has achieved, offering homage to another set of fallen heroes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other pioneers of the Civil Rights movement. Assisted by Nas, Game seems apologetic for being ungrateful for the sacrifices made by his elders in his youth: "Coincenditally," Game says to King, "on your birthdays / I ditched the class /Cause the younger me, dumber me / Was chasin’ the cash."
Realizing the mistakes of his youth and eager to learn from his past shortcomings, Game has shown himself at a crossroads in his career, which he has claimed will end with this album. With his burgeoning talent and skill demonstrated throughout his body of work but especially on L.A.X., such a premature retirement would be a shame —- the West Coast and hip-hop needs all the historians and teachers it can get.