I’m Ready To Die without a Reasonable Doubt
Smoke Chronic and hit it Doggystyle before I go out
Until they sign my Death Certificate, All Eyez On Me
I’m still at it, Illmatic, and that’s The Documentary
I’d like to continue West Coast Wednesday with a review of The Documentary, the official major label debut studio album from Compton-bred gangsta rap star The Game, which celebrates its 12th anniversary today. The double-platinum-certified modern hip hop and West Coast gangsta rap classic was released jointly through Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records and Interscope Records, following the rapper’s brief stint on JT The Bigga Figga’s independent Bay Area-based label Get Low Recordz.
Game’s aggressive delivery and flow, descriptive lyricism (including a LOT of name-dropping, a trait the rapper has come to be known for over the years; just peep how he impressively weaves together the titles of several classic hip hop albums on the chorus of the title track) and often personal subject matter dominate every single explosive moment of The Documentary, which boasts an all-star production lineup with contributions from Dr. Dre (who produces nearly half the album), Kanye West (long before he completely lost his shit, he made bangers like the single “Dreams”), Timbaland (who lends his talents to the album’s final single, “Put You On The Game”), Just Blaze (“Church For Thugs”, “No More Fun And Games”), Buckwild (who contributes the heartfelt Busta Rhymes-assisted album closer “Like Father, Like Son”, a detailed account of the birth of Game’s first son), Eminem (who also raps on “We Ain’t”), Havoc (of Mobb Deep fame, who laces the album highlight “Don’t Need Your Love” featuring Faith Evans on the chorus), Hi-Tek (“Runnin'”), Scott Storch and others, as well as additional high profile guest appearances from 50 Cent (who appears on the album’s biggest singles; “Hate It Or Love It”, “How We Do” and “Westside Story”), the late, great Nate Dogg (“Where I’m From”, “Special”), Marsha Ambrosius (“Start From Scratch”), the Queen of Hip Hop Soul herself, Mary J. Blige (who shines on the romantic duet “Don’t Worry”; this joint immediately follows the album’s other love song, “Special”, appropriately enough) and more.
The Documentary notably draws parallels to another major label rap debut and modern classic from the same era; Game’s former friend and mentor 50 Cent and his 2003 debut Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. I’d absolutely say that both albums are on the same level musically, and on a more eerily coincidental note, both were released a few years after both Game and 50 each survived being shot multiple times in separate incidents. Shortly after The Documentary‘s release, Game became engaged in a highly publicized beef with 50 and G-Unit (on wax and in real life) and has since gone on to release a string of solid albums and mixtapes without 50’s help; this includes the official two-part sequel, The Documentary 2 and The Documentary 2.5, released a full decade later and within a week of each other in October 2015. However, while Game has matured plenty as an artist and today remains one of the top names to carry the torch for the current generation of West Coast gangsta rap (especially from Compton), The Documentary still serves as his magnum opus, containing literally nothing but highlights and virtually no filler.
Happy West Coast Wednesday y’all….