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Casanova Trains Like Rocky In His "Stick And Move" Video

Brooklyn's tough guys rolls out his latest music video. 

Brooklyn's Casanova is finally having his moment in the lime light, not to say that his time to shine is limited, but it's been years of blood, sweat and tears for the rapper to reach this point.

READ: Casanova Shares His Conversation With Rap Personality Taxstone

After making waves with his New York City anthem, "Don't Run," the rugged rhymer earned himself a spot on VIBE's first New York City The Fresh Pack concert. Back in 2016, we debuted the showcase series during Atlanta's A3C festival to much success, and now we're bringing it to our hometown on June 9th. Casanova, along with a special list of Rotten Apple talent will be taking the stage at the Grammercy Theatre. Tickets are currently available for purchase here. (We will announcing more acts in the coming weeks.)

Before the show, take in 'Nova's brand new video for his movie-esque video, "Stick and Move." While he portrays a boxer who is looking to leave a life of crime in the flick, there are many aspects of his lyrics on the song that are true-to-life for the rising star.

“I’ma be the next 50 Cent,” Casanova tells XXL. “I haven’t seen him get bullied, you know. I know nobody’s never gonna bully me. And I’m gonna piss a lotta people off in this industry. I could see me doing everything he did and succeeding. I believe that I’m something these certain rappers are not. I’m not into being a groupie, you know. I’m not getting this dude number to ask for a feature.”

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Jerritt Clark

Lil Mosey Talks ‘Certified Hitmaker’: ‘I Want The Top Spot’

Most kids' milestones leading up to their late teenage years include gaining their parents’ trust to stay home alone, talking to their crush at the school dance, and avoiding that big, red pimple in the middle of their forehead on picture day. But by the time Lil Mosey turned 18, he had already earned his own music festival, a co-sign from Ice Cube and a spot on the Billboard charts.

 After releasing a handful of songs on his Soundcloud page, the 17-year-old rapper saw his career skyrocket in 2017 after his song "Pull Up" became a viral hit and garnered millions of streams on Soundcloud and YouTube. The streaming numbers grew considerably after a pair of successful follow-up singles ("Boof Pack," "Noticed") and before he knew it, Lil Mosey became an online sensation.

The buzz that surrounded these singles trickled into the following year as the Seattle native signed a deal with Interscope Records and earned a spot on Juice WRLD's WRLD Domination Tour. His debut studio album, Northsbest, debuted at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was met with a positive reception from fans and outlets like HotNewHipHop and XXL. To cap it all off, the baby-faced rapper landed a spot on XXL's coveted Freshmen Class this past June. 

Lil Mosey entered a new phase in his career with his latest album Certified Hitmaker. It's a bold title but one that fits him. The 14-track album is filled with melodic trap bangers like "Rockstars" and "Live This Wild" with features from Gunna, Trippie Redd, AJ Tracey, and Chris Brown.

For the most part, Certified Hitmaker follows the same formula as its predecessor in which the baby-faced star talks about living life and having fun---the things a 17-year-old normally does. "This is my style and how I'm living. I'm at the point now that I can do whatever I want with music," Lil Mosey tells VIBE. "But I'm still trying to show off my style and show off my way of music. I'm still trying to put that out there."

VIBE caught up with Lil Mosey to speak more on Certified Hitmaker, how recording with Chris Brown inspired him, staying level-headed in the music industry at such a young age, bringing a festival to his hometown of Seattle, which NBA player he compares his career to, and more. 

It’s been a year since you’ve dropped out of school to make rap a profession. What has your first year in the music industry been like so far?

I think it’s been a big year. I learned a lot and I became an adult. I went out on my own and lived real life experiences. I learned a lot when I first blew up when I was 16 and since then the year got bigger. I learned a lot of things like the business side and where the money goes and everything. 

You’ve been hitting the festival circuit crazy lately. How do you manage with the grueling tour schedules at such a young age? 

I just know I have to do it. To me it’s fun actually so I just have fun with it and just try to show off. Every show matters and all my fans are going to be there. I have to be there for them. They came out for me.  

When did you know things were really popping off? 

Before “Pull Up” I started blowing up off Soundcloud and that’s when I really started taking it seriously. After “Pull Up” I moved out to LA and once I did that I knew to keep my foot forward and keep going. I never stopped and it took me to where I’m at now.  

What do you miss about the regular life of a teenager?

Before I blew up I was still living how I live now. I don’t feel like too much has changed, I mean yeah there’s been a lot of changes like how I go about stuff. But it’s been fine. I like doing what I do as an adult.  

You’re following in huge footsteps like Sir Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore. How does it feel to be the next big thing out of Seattle? 

It feels good. There aren’t a lot of people from Washington that go crazy so like just to put on for the whole state feels good. Not just Seattle but all the cities and towns that are near there. It feels good to be the one to do that for them. 

You really are putting on for your city. You brought the Northsbest Fest to it. What’s it feel like doing that for your hometown? 

It’s lit. I didn’t grow up off any festivals in Seattle so I’m just trying to bring some fun and something they’ve never had before. 

Are there plans to make it a big thing on the level of like the Astroworld Festival or Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival?

I’m trying to make this as big as possible. Sooner or later, hopefully, it’s going to be the biggest thing Seattle has ever seen. I basically already had a festival on my tour. We were already lit and had multiple heads performing with me. We wanted to add like five more people and we were lit. I was just trying to bring something special to Seattle. I really want the next one to be bigger than the last. This next one is going to be a lot bigger for sure. Hopefully we can move to an outdoor venue and really go crazy. Either an amphitheater or something big like the WAMU Theater.  

You’ve gotten crazy numbers on YouTube, earned a spot on XXL’s Freshmen Class list, been on an international tour and you’ve hit the Billboard charts. What else are you aiming for? 

I want the top spot. I want to be number one. I need my whole album to go platinum and I need some more plaques too. I’m really trying to go crazy.

How do you keep yourself level-headed after getting wins like these? 

I just think at the end of the day that this isn’t all that’s in store for me. If this shit doesn’t go the way I want it to go I’m obviously going to push my hardest to make it work. But there’s a lot of other stuff I have to do besides just music. I want to open businesses, invest in different things, and put more time into modeling and acting. I keep in mind that this isn’t the only thing that I do. I can do a lot more stuff. It doesn’t matter as much as some people might think it matters to me but it matters for sure.

What’s a day like in the studio for you? 

I just go through my day and when I feel like hitting the studio I go. I’ll start freestyling and thinking about what I can make and stuff. I just play through beats I’m fucking with and start freestyling over them. I don’t force myself either I try to have fun. If I go crazy then I go crazy. Some nights I’ll make about five songs in one night.  

You stuck to the same formula for Certified Hitmaker, why is that?

I feel like I created my own sound and style. I'm using this sound to show people that this is the wave. I feel like I'm definitely a melodic artist. I try to use a lot of rap elements but my main thing is melodies. I feel like what really brings them in is the melody of the song. They don't even need to know what I'm saying it'll just be replaying in their head multiple times. 

You went from flipping “You” on Northsbest to having the “G-Walk” record with Chris Brown on Certified Hitmaker. What was that like having that experience with him?

It was fire. With Chris, I pulled up to his crib and it was a straight-up vibe. I walked around his crib and he had girls making food and stuff [laughs], it was some real rockstar superstar shit. It's cool seeing all these artists I've been around before and shit. It's inspirational. He started playing the song over and over for 10 minutes and then he started freestyling that bitch. I was looking at him like this nigga is crazy. Definitely seeing other artists do that and seeing that there are other ways to record besides like taking your time and always trying your hardest, you can also just feel it and go and have fun.

I notice the album has an outer space vibe from the album cover to the spacey production. At the end of the album you can hear a voice say “Mosey you have landed in the land of make believe.” Is there a story you’re telling here?

Yea all my projects connect. That's for the next chapter though, The Land of Make-Believe.

Is that the title of your next project?

Yeah. We're going to have some shit on the way for that. It's going to be crazier and more vibes.

There have been people talking about an alleged beef between you and Lil Tecca. Were you talking about him in that Instagram freestyle you dropped? And if there isn’t any beef would you collab on a record with him?

Nah. I wasn't even thinking about Tecca on that shit. I'm not going to keep talking about it. I said what I said. He's his own person and I don't know anything about the way he creates his music. As far as collaborating I'm not sure, probably I don't know.  

Looking at your live performances your fans go crazy for you.You’re giving out three free shows in the cities of Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle. What’s the story behind that? 

It's basically showing off the album and giving the kids the opportunity to see me live and watch a good ass show. I'm doing it off the love for them supporting me the way they do. I'm going to give back to them what they're giving me. I love going crazy with them. When I see them running towards the stage when my set starts and shit at festivals, that shit be lit. That shit be turning me up. When I see them go crazy it makes me go crazy for sure.

I know you were big on basketball growing up so who would be your NBA comparison? 

I feel like Lebron James, man. I feel like the king right now. I feel like LeBron in his prime. I feel like I put in too much work over everyone else. 

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Melody Thornton Provides Power Vocals To Stirring Solo Single "Love Will Return"

There's a romantic and mysterious aura that seeps into Melody Thornton's solo single, "Love Will Return." From the big band production to Thornton's riveting vocals, it's almost shocking that a gem so bright was hiding in plain sight.

The recent release is the lead single for her forthcoming EP expected to be released next year. Formerly a member of the pop group The Pussycat Dolls, Thornton has shown off her singing chops over the years through the group's most popular tracks like "Buttons," "I Don't Need A Man" and her 2012 solo project, POYBL. With "Love Will Return," Thornton pays homage to inspirations like Eartha Kitt and her Arizona roots. Co-producing the track with Eric Zayne, the singer shared with VIBE how cinematic the creative process was.

“The entire evolution of the song was magic,” she explained. “There’s just something spiritual about it. It moves me in a way like no other song I’ve written before.” The track is a strong introduction to her vocal abilities that appeared to be gravely overlooked during her PCD days.

Last week, The Pussycat Dolls reunited without Thornton, leaving many wondering why. "What I want for myself and for my bandmates are for them is to really enjoy their lives," she told Chart Show TV in January when rumors began to surface of a possible reunion. "When I was in the group, I was a kid...I'm primarily a vocalist. Nicole had been signed twice so it only made sense for her to sing the majority of the leads. But then, I kept being asked to wait my turn and it never came– and we only released two albums. So it's this mistaken identity that I've kind of had to unravel. For me, there's really nothing to go back to."

The ladies are all on good terms with Thornton as Nicole Sherzinger and the rest of the ladies wished her well wishes on her solo endeavors. "It just didn't align [with] where she is in her life right now," Sherzinger said. "She's doing a lot and doing her own music and we totally respect and understand and support her."

Nonetheless, we're thrilled about Thornton's new journey.

Listen to "Love Will Return" below.

 

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Leon Bennett

Ranking The Game's Discography

Most likely, the first time you saw Jayceon Taylor was in the background of 50 Cent’s “In The Club” video. It was a nondescript cameo for a future platinum superstar. If you’re an avid follower of the game show Change of Heart, you may have seen him there on the wrong side of a change of heart. Even with that prior knowledge of his existence, when he officially arrived as The Game it was a refreshing and earth-shattering revelation.

As the West Coast representative of 50’s G-Unit, Game leaned into that persona, never failing to let the listeners know where he was from or what he had done. Raised in Compton by parents who were members of the Crips, Game gravitated towards the Bloods thanks to the influence of his older brother. After giving basketball a try, Game dove into the streets and when he was shot in 2001 it was a turning point in his life.

After a three-day long coma, Game decided rap would be his path and spent months studying some of the greatest albums of all-time. What emerged from all of that was one of the most talented rappers of his generation, with a propensity for paying homage to his rap peers via name-dropping. Game also boasts one of the greatest ears for production ever, making every time out a pristine listening experience.

With a debut album that sold over five million copies worldwide, Game was a superstar from the gate and has spent the rest of his career trying to live up to those lofty standards he set back in 2005.  This past Thanksgiving weekend, on his 40th birthday, The Game released Born 2 Rap, what he has said will be his final album. So how will his career be remembered? Was The Documentary his best album, or are there others in his catalog that can compete? Here are all of The Game’s nine studio albums (including a sequel and a sequel of that sequel), ranked.

9. The R.E.D. Album

Released in 2011, The Red Album very much represents the mid-career slog many legends suffer through as the years grow longer. Then a greybeard in the game, something he once scoffed at, Game relied on far too many tropes and familiar sounds rather than forge his own new identity within his own framework. On one track, he’s trying to out crazy a demonic Tyler, The Creator, on another he’s predictably wooing the fairer sex with Wale. It makes the album feel generic for long stretches, in a coaction where you can see the seams and threads of the tapestry.  Rather than creating his own new album, The Red Album feels like Game took leftovers off the cutting room floor from other superstars and tacked on his own verses to retain ownership.

That’s not to say the album is a waste entirely. This is the only place where you can get Rick Ross and Beanie Sigel on the same track, rampaging through a brooding Streetrunner production with a cascade boss talk and war-ready rhymes. Game also famously spends nearly six minutes trading bars with a motivated Kendrick Lamar on “The City.” Game menaces his way through the haunting Cool & Dre production, perfectly settling the table for K. Dot’s closing acapella verse.

Later, Game would say the album was created in a time where he “was kind of lost in trying to re-find the love for hip-hop." That explains the uneven outing, but when a career is as long and storied as Game’s there are bound to be a few misses.

8. LAX

The critical reception to Game’s third album haunted him so much he decided to rap about it on his next album. Admitting you’re “stressed the fuck out” about the lukewarm reception of an album is basically an admission of guilt, and he’d be right to feel that way because that’s about exactly what LAX was.

There’s really nowhere else to go but down when you open your career up with a classic and a possible, so some slippage was to be expected from Game. What fans got with LAX was a little bit more than that, though, as he just never seemed to get his footing right.

The album is a lethargic, by the numbers affair. The plan was obvious, as Game went after radio-friendly production with guest appearances to boost the appeal. Keyshia Cole pops up for a song that screams “summer time in Los Angeles” in the laziest way possible. Ne-Yo is there for what is supposed to be a flirtatious ode to women and ends up being a clumsy proposition for threesomes instead.

That’s not to say the album is a failure entirely. On “Angel,”  Kanye West provides a production that sounds like a sunny day in 1980s LA in a lowrider as palm trees sway above you. That just makes it easy for Game and Common to float all over beat and churn out an earworm worthy of repeated listens.

Then, of course, the album is bookended by a soulful Hi-Tek instrumental that Game and Nas rip to shreds for nearly six minutes on  “Letter To The King.” In one fell swoop they give LAX its lasting highlight, one of the greatest songs in Game’s career, and annoy by teasing what a focused Game could have provided here. Poignant commentary on race relations on top of a powerful production from a legend? Imagine if Game focused and knocked out 10 of these.

7. 1992

There’s nothing inherently wrong with 1992. It’s a fine album, ripe with decent production and a neat concept that Game relishes in. Nostalgia and retrospection has become his brand over the years, so really hammering it down with an album full of those two ideas only make sense. It starts with a classic Marvin Gaye flip, and includes nods, homages and outright remakes of classics from Ice-T, D.O.C., Wu-Tang, Ice Cube, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and more. It’s fine.

The problem is, we’ve heard this all before, both figuratively and literally. Game’s album immediately preceding this thrived within this sphere, giving new takes on familiar sounds. Here, instead, he’s just recycling them and rapping over things we’ve heard already, years and decades ago.

He’s still telling us he went 5x platinum on his first album. He’s still telling us about his relationship, or lack thereof, with Dr. Dre. He’s still telling us about Biggie and Pac influencing him. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If anything, it’s a testament to Game’s talent that he can make this a listenable and enjoyable experience after a decade in the industry. In fact, “All Eyez” became a modest hit thanks to a seductive chorus from Jeremih and tons of wit from Game to turn what could have been a flop into a bouncy little bop. The album’s highlight is “The Juice,” another jog down memory lane for Game with Lorine Chia adding haunting vocals between Game’s musings about his life and career highlights.

6. Jesus Piece

After two lackluster outings in a row, The Game came back with a vengeance in 2012, reestablishing himself as one of the most respected emcees in all of hip-hop. Per usual, he did so with a ton of friends along for the ride, but unlike the past few years preceding Jesus Piece, Game had a renewed vigor and focus that made it so those guests didn’t overwhelm or outperform his own effort.

The lead single alone features superstars  Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Tyga and Wiz Khalifa, making “Celebration” another modest hit for Game. But contributions from the likes of Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Kanye West, Common, J. Cole, Pusha T and of course Kendrick Lamar that make the album an impressive and lasting piece of work.

Armed with a biblical theme to keep him focused, Game seems at ease as he rides every beat he’s provided effortlessly. It could be that’s what he has always needed to reach his peak, focus and motivation to hone in on one particular idea or concept for direction. The theme here gives him framework to work within, and even when he strays away to touch on other topics he deems worthy of commentary, he makes sure he doesn’t stray too far and betray the rest of the album.

The album starts as aggressively as possible, with Game throwing his weight around on “Scared Now,” with Meek Mill before the energy reaches a triumphant high on “Ali Bomaye” with the aforementioned Ross and 2 Chainz. It never really dies down from there either, only taking brief breaks before shifting right back in fifth gear.

“All That (Lady)" is a welcome reprieve, featuring a flip of "Lady" by D'Angelo as Game, Big Sean, Wayne, Jeremih and Fabolous all take their favorite women on massive shopping sprees.

The album represented a return to form for the Compton legend, but was just the beginning of a massive resurgent run a full decade into his career.

5. Born 2 Rap

Retirements in rap are usually about as temporary as one of those tattoos out of a vending machine, but Game swears his retirement is legit. If so, Born 2 Rap would be his swan song, a massive but enjoyable mix of old and new all in a tightly wound, kind of contradictory and bipolar package. It’s The Game in a nutshell, mostly for the better and certainly on his own terms.

On this 25-track opus, Game seems to empty his coffers, relying on the mind’s nostalgia and reverence for hip-hop classics from all over the map as a sweetener for the dish he’s serving. That may not be new, as Game seems to enjoy giving listeners the rap version of Tory Lanez’s Chixtape series, what is refreshing is just how deep he dug on this album. While he has mostly wallowed in the shallowest and most cliché waters possible, here Game gets more introspective than ever before, recalling his struggles within the industry, battles with his brother, fear over death, his insecurities and so much more.

Yes, there are name drops, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre references and tons of California clichés, but more than anything Game reminds us he’s possibly the biggest hip-hop fanboy there ever was. Whether he’s shouting all those greats out, or giving his own take on their records – there’s even an impressive take on Nas’ mind-bending classic “Rewind” – his only doing so as a fan who is just happy to be mentioned on the same breath as them.

But Game truly does sound like a man at peace with his place amongst the greats that came before him and will come after him. “I been rappin' at this level for like 15 years,” he says almost modestly on “One Life.” But that’s after he let it be known “Last 15 years of my life, I cut any hip-hop nigga fuckin' throat with this mic,” earlier on “The Light.” It’s only he spits out one thought, in two separate ways, and it’s effective each time. It gets no more Jayceon Taylor than that.

4. The Documentary 2 

After nearly three years away from the industry, The Game returned refreshed and obviously motivated in 2015 with the sequel to his revered debut album. Like most Game albums, The Documentary 2 was loaded with guest appearances, as everybody from Diddy to Ice Cube and many, many more pop up throughout.

When Game struggled through a mid-career rut, it was due to him stuffing several albums full of lazy rehashes and generic attempts to recreate other rapper’s styles. On D2, he added a twist, instilling more of his own rambunctious energy on top of flips of classics we’d all come to know and love. This allowed him to still pay homage like he loves to do, but at least made it refreshing and new this time around.

Take, for instance, the album’s opener “On Me,” a flip of Erykah Badu’s “On and On” featuring Kendrick Lamar. Here, he gracefully approaches the tranquil Pops production, until later he decides to speed up the flow and rumble through the finish line with a riveting third verse.

The second half of the album is buoyed by two superstar guest appearances that Game expertly navigates, giving them room to operate while refusing to be overwhelmed by the presence. On “Dedicated” Future sets the table for Game with an anguished chorus and verse that feels straight out of his Hndrxx album two years in the future. Game takes the baton and dishes out his own bit of impassioned scorn over everything from a custody battle to the prices of purses.

Eventually Game does what just about everybody has done this decade when it comes album time: lean on Drake. But he may have done it the best. On “100,” Game gets the best of both worlds as The 6 God gifts him with a memorable hook along with a lengthy and somber verse that helped Game own a chunk of the summer in 2015.  It all leads to Game’s best outing and years, plus a sense of renewed confidence in his ability from his fans, and rightfully so.

3. Doctor's Advocate

By the time Game was set to release his sophomore album he was a superstar in turmoil. Yes, he’d had one of the biggest years of any rapper in 2005, but it was time for him to follow that up and this time he’d have to do it without two of the biggest weapons in his arsenal. Gone were 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, the results of infighting that left Game on the outside looking in, jettisoned from G-Unit and Dre’s Aftermath Records. He landed on Interscope subsidiary Geffen, taking matters into his own hands and nearly surpassing his stellar debut album – a feat that virtually none of other Dr. Dre’s collaborators have been able to do after parting ways from him.

This time around, Game leaned heavily on traditional West Coast sounds thanks to a who’s who of producers like Kanye West, Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz, Hi-Tek and more. Lyrically, Game practically screams Los Angeles on every song, beating you over the head with West Coast staples like ’64 Impalas, Chuck Taylors, Bloods and Crips. On the aptly-titled “Compton,” he even screams it over and over: “I’m from Compton.” The album almost feels like a throwback to early Dr. Dre, making it a minor miracle that Dre doesn’t lend any production or insight to the project.

There were a few moments when Icarus flew a little too close to the sun, though, most notably the album’s lazy second single “Let’s Ride.” The formulaic, clear radio reach was produced by former Dre protégé Scott Storch, and featured Game name-dropping Dre and mimicking his invoice to the point you’d be remiss if you thought it was Dre himself singing the chorus. But that’s not nearly enough to derail this worthy follow up to a classic, where Game steps out onto his own and creates his own space within the hip-hop universe, even if begrudgingly.

2. The Documentary 2.5

Released just a week after The Documentary 2, this outing was instantly hailed as the better of the two. While the original seemed to focus on new takes on familiar sounds, on 2.5 Game chose to create something wholly new. He sounds rejuvenated, finding new ways to attack within his trademark framework. Yes, Dr. Dre is mentioned often, as are many other rappers, but Game feels refreshed, motivated and like a man with a lot to get off his chest.

On “The Ghetto” he exchanges verses with Nas twice, with will.i.am there to organize all of the madness and bridge each verse with a vocoder to amplify his agony. It’s an example of the vastness of the album, wherein Game lands in so many boxes effortlessly, it’s a wonder he can pull them all off. On each song he seems to leap into another world, roam around it like it was his own before leaving abruptly to join another superstar in their own world seconds later.

After “The Ghetto,” is an especially pained outing with Lil Wayne titled “From Adam,” where he seems to sob through his first verse as he eulogizes fallen friends. A few songs later Scarface shows up to heartbreakingly pay tribute to 2 Pac. There are more jubilant moments throughout, but it’s when Game wallows in misery and terrifying bouts of anger where the album really shines. Whether he’s menacingly waving his red flag around with a laundry list of Los Angeles emcees on “My Flag/The Homies,” or he’s more remorseful for the same thing on “Gang Bang Anyway” alongside Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock, Game knocks it out of the park.

There’s no single chasing or pandering for multiple audiences here, just The Game in an unrelenting onslaught for nearly 20 tracks for his best outing in over a decade.

1. The Documentary

As the years have gone by, there has been some debate about just where The Game’s debut stands historically, and what its exact classification should be. If you need any extra confirmation of its status as a capital C Classic, look no further than the album’s first five songs. In that initial burst of songs, the listener is treated to three Dr. Dre productions, a Kanye West classic and a smooth Cool & Dre instrumental with some touch ups from Dr. Dre. Amongst those is two Top 5 hits, and another Top 40 banger, making The Documentary’s opening third one of the most iconic openings to a career ever.

The 50 Cent influence is apparent, not only in the arrangements within the tracks or the sing-songy nature of the choruses, but with his actual presence as well. The G-Unit boss makes appearances on massive hits “Hate It Or Love It” and “How We Do” as well as the album’s opener “Westside Story.” Though both artists have debated just how much work he did on the album and each specific song, 50 sings the chorus on each record, handing Game the palette he’d used to become the biggest artist in the world over the preceding two years.

But it was up to Game to take that recipe and run with it, and he did, taking it further than any of his other G-Unit cohorts. On The Documentary, his rap style is straightforward, foregoing any lyrical gymnastics in lieu of passionate recollections of his past, boastful quips about his present and the hopeful extrapolations for his future.

Game invites a slew of guests onto the album, including bucket list additions like Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Busta Rhymes, holding his own next to all of them. As the album progresses and he gets further from 50’s tutelage, Game gradually carves out his own sonic identity.

It’s abundantly clear that while his background haunts him and has shaped Jayceon Taylor before his rap career, The Game is little more than a student of hip-hop with a thirst to pay homage at every turn. On The Documentary, he wanted to prove that he’d furiously studied for this very test, as he looked to ace it on his very first attempt. He did that, earning the classic and respect from his peers he’d so desired, and kicking off a career that spans decades and eras.

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