#TBT Album Review: The Game – L.A.X

10 years ago The Game confirmed rumours of his retirement after ‘L.A.X’ were true. After performing ‘Hustlers’ with Nas on stage in New York, the Compton legend made the statement which was later validated by Black Wall Street Europe. Of course, Game’s retirement lasted as long as any other rap retirement as the rapper has released five more albums since.

Whilst The Game’s debut ‘The Documentary’ is my favourite rap album of all time, the rest of his discography hasn’t quite matched his magnum opus. Having been gifted ‘The Documentary’ by a teacher while I was in college, the album is probably the greatest present I’ve ever received. For one reason another though, ‘Doctor’s Advocate’, ‘L.A.X’ and even ‘The Documentary 2’ never elicited the same connection.

Almost ten years since the release of ‘L.A.X’ I’ve decided to revisit it. I wasn’t so in love with hip-hop back in 2008. In 2018 I’ll likely listen to every high profile album that drops and a number of underground releases too and The Game is partly responsible for the obsession with rap music. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – so whilst I wasn’t around to enjoy The Game’s run in the late 2000’s, I certainly can now.

Revisiting albums is always a strange experience. Music is such a subjective artform, an album you hate on Monday, you might love on Tuesday because of a simple change in mood. So give it a few years, and your perspective on life has likely changed a lot – and thus the perception of music changes completely.

This is something which mostly holds true with ‘L.A.X.’ A week ago, I probably would have told you this album was trash – and that’s far from the truth. It has its flaws, but that’s likely a case of certain songs not aging overly well. Neyo hooks in 2018 definitely don’t hold the same weight as they did in 2008.

Remove the third quarter of the album where the tracklist switches vibe into more pop-sensible love-centric tracks and this album is every bit as good as ‘The Documentary’ would have been without the 50 Cent features. Although the 50 collaboration’s created The Game’s debut’s brightest highlights, it’s impossible to say that had the duo’s relationship remained intact, they’d replicate ‘How We Do’ and ‘Hate It Or Love It’ for ‘L.A.X.’

‘L.A.X’’s stand-out song comes in the form of the Lil Wayne assisted ‘My Life.’ Over Cool & Dre’s soundscape, Lil Wayne delivers one of the greatest hook features of his storied career, leaving little left for Game to do. Naturally, Game killed his verses making it one of the best tracks of his career. Elsewhere, the way Kanye’s beats always make for highlights on The Game’s albums makes me really wish we could get a full LP of the Compton MC over Yeezy production. The pair match ‘Dreams’ with the Common featuring ‘Angel.’

‘L.A.X’ naturally has a number of namedrops, including shots at 50 and Jay Z, whilst navigating an uneasy relationship with Dre as an idol who had perhaps let him down. Game’s no-nonsense approach to topics is one of his finest qualities. Honesty isn’t always the best policy but it makes for entertaining music leaving you thinking “did he really just say that.”

‘L.A.X’ might not be a classic. It’s not The Game’s best album. It’s arguably for the most part packed with forgettable album tracks in the grand scheme of Game’s career. It is however, a very solid offering. It’s not quite as tight as ‘The Documentary’ but I felt myself connecting a lot more in 2018 than I did back in 2012 when I was first discovering the Compton legend.

Maybe it’s time I revisited ‘Jesus Piece’ too…

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