Blood Money / eOne
Blood Money / eOne

For a moment, forget The Game’s tendency to ignite beef with any rapper that might have the slightest thought of stepping to him, his desire to name-drop everyone from Betty White to Barry White and those Instagram selfies that cater to the ladies. Now focus on the music. While The Game's antics certainly cloud his artistry at times, he's perhaps one of hip-hop’s most underappreciated talents.

His eight albums have made for one of the most solid catalogs known to contemporary rap. He manages to mix a fair balance of storytelling cuts with hit records into all of his releases and on top of that, his debut LP, The Documentary, is widely considered a modern day classic. Now, his newest album, 1992, continues his hot streak without relying on chart-topping singles to propel it forward.

In fact, one of the only tracks that seems to fit perfectly in a radio format is the Jeremih-assisted “All Eyez,” which checks the typical “R&B-hook-feature” box. However, it's “92 Bars” that has generated more buzz for Game than any of the songs on the project. Hip-hop purists will rejoice in the fact that the diss track aimed at Meek Mill is the one bringing 1992 all its attention thus far.

One listen to the project as a whole finds Jeremih as the only credited feature. Not only is this a new play for The Game, who normally loads his albums with more than a handful of guests, but it also doubles as a strategic power move. His current standing in the Meek Mill rumble allows him to snap off a dozen well written solo songs that prove his superior abilities as an MC -- ultimately nullifying Meek’s claims that Game is incompetent on the mic.

1992 is actually quite the opposite of incompetency as Game gives listeners a thorough snapshot of the current climate in America along with narratives from the title year. “Savage Lifestyle” draws comparisons between a macro-perspective of the 1992 L.A. riots and his own 13-year-old perspective of that time. Mentions of Rodney King, police brutality, gang violence and, of course, the riots set up the final unforgiving line “Get a match, we gon' make sure that y'all remember that fire,” which he delivers with such distinct, astute conviction it's borderline revengeful.

The album focuses mostly on West Coast gang culture and how the year 1992 was pivotal in making Game the man and rapper he is today. It would appear that this was the year Jayceon Terrell Taylor truly became The Game. “True Colours/It’s On” details a very personal account of Game’s Compton upbringing that hasn’t been heard before, which is refreshing seeing as the rapper has told many tales from the hood in one way, shape or form before. “My daddy was from Nutty Blocc, my uncle was from Nutty Blocc/My mama was from Hoover, how she end up here cuttin' rock?/Four year old on her lap, that was my older sister/Photos of Tookie and my father, now you get the picture,” he raps. This is just one example of a very personal name-drop and reference straight out of his 13-year-old memory.

What really sets 1992 apart from Game’s previously released albums is the risks he takes on the production and structural tip. The beats are more out of the box and use some of the most well chopped samples seen in recent years. Will Power does a phenomenal job of chopping up Clams Casino’s “I’m God” beat to make the “Soundtrack,” one of Game’s most honest tracks. Bongo The Drum GAHD and The Chemists Create handle most of the production and really push Game's artistry to higher heights. One of the rhymer's biggest strengths is being so decisively sharp on his records and these beats give him the space to do just that.

Whether you can get over Game’s antics outside of the music or not, it’s impossible to deny how strong this album is. His solid storytelling and beat selection prove the rapper hasn't lost his groove musically and artistically despite getting caught up in the world of Internet beef. The biggest takeaway from 1992 is that The Game is no longer in his feelings about his past trials and tribulations. He's comfortable with his position in the game and it's apparent with the top-notch rap album he dropped for those willing to listen.

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