A bunch of the tracks from The Game’s sophomore outing Doctor’s Advocate leaked this week and I was more than a little surprised to discover that they’re hot. I have to admit, I seriously doubted that dude could pull it off.

It’s not that I thought Game lacked talent. (He’s no Young Hov, but he’s no Young Joc either.) I didn’t think he’d be lost without 50’s hooks and Dre’s beats. I didn’t care that he’s so emotional. (He may even be the most emotional rapper out. Next to the top dog of drama kings, Kanye, of course.) And I didn’t care that Game can’t spit a single verse without name-dropping famous rappers.

My low expectations for Doctor’s Advocate stemmed more from the fact that Jayceon Taylor has had a horrible year. Seriously. His life has been a fucking train wreck. And I keep waiting for his self-destructive streak to push him off the proverbial edge. It’s a bit like watching Pac spin out control after he got out of prison. It’s disturbing, particularly when you’re rooting for him.

In the November issue of XXL, Game bared all, sharing about his suicidal thoughts, about being unable to stop pummeling the world with his fists.  

Despite the negative impact on his career, Game simply cannot leave his beef with Five-O alone. [1] His G-U-Not campaign has been relentless, to the point of tediousness. And unlike 50, who clearly delights in beefing for sport, Game perpetually wears his heart on his sleeve. Stuff gets to him. A lot.

Then there’s also been the disbanding of his Black Wall Street crew, which has shrunk from 50 members to seven. Add to that a falling out with his brother Big Fase, a bunch of supernova romances, and getting booted off his mentor's label, and what you have is the makings of a nervous breakdown. I keep waiting for dude to snap and go postal. Or else hurt himself.

And what does he do instead? He goes and makes a hot album. He mans up and makes a track like “Doctor’s Advocate” that faces the mess he’s made, and pushes past it with the sheer force of the music. Somehow, he refuses to cave under pressure.

The simple fact is that Game has something. He possesses that illusive quality that fascinates the public—particularly those of us in the Hip-Hop Generation—that potent combination of naked ambition, hard-headed rage, cocky swagger, and painful vulnerability. It might destroy him, but you never know, it might just save him too.

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[1] Just a thought, but why didn’t 50 sit Game down when they were recording The Documentary and be like, “You know, it’s not really cool to call me five-o”?

Unrelated: I caught up to Obie Trice last week.