The Game’s “The Documentary 2” Is The Album I Wish Kendrick Lamar Would Have Released » VSB

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The Game’s “The Documentary 2” Is The Album I Wish Kendrick Lamar Would Have Released

I know that sounds absurd. But follow me.

Kendrick Lamar dropped a seminal work in To Pimp A Butterfly, a work so full of Blackness and filled with so many musical styles and elements that even if you don’t love it you have to appreciate and respect his ability to articulate his worldview in his own way. Kendrick dropped art. TPAB is what happens when dreams aren’t deferred and little Black kids get to grow up and use their minds to change the world.

I’ve often felt like the first time Kendrick listened to that album in its entirety, and after it was mixed and mastered and ready to turn into the label, he had to take a step back and be impressed by what he’d accomplished. We were all impressed from afar, I can’t imagine what it felt like for him to hear what happens when your ability to execute your ambition gets fully realized. I imagine this is also what Kanye West feels like when he completes an album or wakes up in the morning.

But it was always missing one key ingredient to me: entertainment. And as a musical album, I do want some sort of entertainment and enjoy-ability with my art. It’s why porn with a plot is so terrible, it doesn’t add entertainment value. While I respect it as a masterful body of work, it might be one of the more unlistenable albums I’ve heard in a while. It was hard to digest and the replay value is low.

Fight me.

It’s akin to a piece of art that you see in a museum that you can appreciate for its construction and creativity while never needing to see it again. Or even more apropos…

TPAB was 12 Years A Slave, a movie that was compelling but not exactly something you need to see more than once. You got it the first time around and the experience trumps the actuality of it. To be clear, I think its a great album and have said as much but I was able to move on fairly quickly.

Let’s switch gears for a moment. If you’re a hip-hop fan, then you are as familiar with the trajectory of The Game as any other artist out there. Game hit the scene in 2005 with his debut album, The Documentary, which is easy to call a classic for its incredible beats, top-shelf lyricism, and the effect of the 50 Cent/G-Unit juggernaut propelling it to 5x platinum status. Game, like 50 was a superstar and he knew it. He had the Compton/Bompton backstory, the gang bonafides, the at-the-time victim of violence street cred, the Dr. Dre co-sign, and the West Coast on his back.

And then he and 50 bumped heads. And then he got booted from G-Unit. And then he started running his mouth. And then he lost Dr. Dre in his corner. Then Aftermath. Etc etc etc. The Game, through a series of oddball decisions and beef with anybody who would be willing to beef with him, became known more for his persona than the music. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because he suffered from a similar Nas problem – great lyricist with some questionable beat choices, rendering several of his albums as solid but largely forgettable after the album cycle.  While each of his albums The Doctor’s Advocate, LAX, The R.E.D. Album, and Jesus Piece had their super high moments – The Game after all is a much, much better than average rapper – nothing is coming close to the impact and replay value of that debut. It’s Game’s Illmatic moment.

Then Game dropped The Documentary 2.

This shit is brackin.

I haven’t enjoyed an album this much since Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap, back in 2013 and Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy before that. I’ve played it on repeat since my boy suggested I give it a spin on its release date. Game sounds comfortable. He sounds confident. He sounds like he knows he released the best music of his career. The beats are murder. The perfect samples. He brought along all of his favorite people. Game is not only the most name dropping ass rapper of all time, he’s also hip-hop’s biggest unapologetic super fan. And it works because he can rap his ass off. It’s also one of the most West Coast and Blood heavy albums to be released in eons. We all know Game’s backstory and that he’s a Cedar Block Piru and he goes full gangster all over this album. I didn’t count, but I’m sure the words “Blood” and “Piru” are mentioned nearly 100 times. It reminds of when DJ Quik released Safe + Sound back in 1995 which was full of Blood symbolism (Quik is a member of Tree Top Pirus, though he famously made a song called “I’m Not A Gangxta” while trying to beat a court case where his gang affiliations were tossed around). That album was Quik’s best entire work in my opinion, by the way.

But forget the gang stuff. What makes The Documentary 2 so great is how enjoyable it is to listen to. The beats all fit well together and transition well though it’s bloated at 17 tracks and I could do without “Bitch You Ain’t Shit” and “Hashtag” in particular. Game’s lyricism is even stepped up a bit. He’s got Dre and Premier and will.i.am (who is going to be worthy of his own UnSung episode one day) on production, and appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Future, Dej Loaf, Ice Cube, amongst a million others. But nobody plays more central than Game. It’s as full and developed an album as you’ll hear today and its got artistic depth. It’s got every single thing that Kendrick Lamar had in TPAB…PLUS its an enjoyable listen.

All I keep thinking about when I listen to The Documentary 2 is what would happen if Kendrick had those beats. Shit, Dr. Dre released Compton this year to much fanfare but a quick fizzle once people realized the album was more exciting for existing than for its actual parts, and Game’s album contains a song called “L.A.” which I’d put money on was originally the intro or outro to Dre’s album. It fits sonically and would have been the perfect opener, or closer. It would immediately have been the best song on the entire project.

I realize that Kendrick’s album is as much a political statement as it is an album. Music is his medium and he dropped his message via TPAB. And that message might not need the prettiest wrapping. Sometimes you need to capture the mood and that’s what Kendrick did perfectly. But when I listen to Game’s album I think that Kendrick could have accomplished everything he did with TPAB in all of his political and pro-Black glroy with a similar soundscape that people would still be listening to today. Sure “Alright” is the rallying cry across the nation for Black folks marching for our rights but that doesn’t mean I listen to the song any other time either.

Kendrick made a musical album of which he was the focal point and he just so happened to be a rapper. When I first wrote about it, I likened it to D’Angelo’s Black Messiah album in its tone and intent. Game made a very hip-hop album with noticeable samples and boom bap drums, and borrowed the tone and flows from any and everybody so maybe that distinction is enough for me to shut the fuck up.

I’m glad Kendrick made TPAB because what I want more than anything is for Kendrick to get all of the acclaim and to take his rightful spot as one of the, if not the, best rapper alive right now. I just wish I liked it more. I wish I didn’t have to appreciate it and then never really listen to it again. I wish I didn’t feel a need to speak of it in terms of what it represents without really talking about how any of the songs knocks in the car. I want the beats, rhymes, and life. I want Kendrick to have Game’s ear for beats.

Because what I know is that Game’s album? That shit’s brackin’ and it’s been on repeat in every place I listen to music for days and I don’t see that stopping, whereas Kendrick made the best piece of music-art we’ve heard in a while, and I haven’t listened to it in months.

Ultimately, I want to both love AND listen to my favorite albums.

Is that so much to ask?

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • “whereas Kendrick made the best piece of music-art we’ve heard in a while, and I haven’t listened to it in months.”

    I think I listened to it twice. Moneypenny loved TPAB but it was just to artsy for me. If that joint with he and J.Cole is real it should be interesting. I don’t like J. Cole all that much but I see the talent there.

  • Eh…I was never really here for The Game. Maybe I’ll take a listen though. You make it sound like a good time.

  • Dougie

    I bought 5 copies because it’s brackin. And my homie Sonyae is featured on it. I literally only buy albums my friends are on.

    I’m just glad it’s good.

    • Dougie

      Oh… and Bongo the Drum Gahd for the win!!!

  • haute_coutoy

    Yoooo… “Bih you aint shiz”….caused me grab for my imaginary pearls. But other than that song, I’m here for this album! Brings out my inner thug especially at the gym.

    • panamajackson

      such an unnecessary song.

    • I agree about that one. It could’ve been left off.

  • Superstrings

    lol @ “brackin” and “bompton”. When I read that, all that popped in my mind is this:http://breal.tv/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/173329.jpg

    • CamCamtheGreat

      Meanwhile, Game spends the entire album in question talking about how much he doesn’t like the color blue.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    Ok. I’ll do this. You sold me.

    Which is amazing because no one should be allowed to sell The Game to another human being.

    You’re asking me to give a man who I characterize as lyrical chlamydia a chance, and I’m agreeing to it.

    Good on you sir. Good on you.

    • panamajackson

      you’re welcome. Game is a good rapper. he’s just a cartoon character in real life.

      • CrankUpThe_AC

        I’m listening to it now. This definitely goes. Kudos sir

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        I think that’s what fazed me out after The Red Album, just how sincerely cartoonish he is…but I guess this is entertainment. I don’t listen for his humanity, I listen for my entertainment.

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  • Pinks

    I had no desire to listen to it prior to reading this and that has only changed by about .003458565 percent. But “brackin” was erthang.

  • uNk

    What did you think about OKE? I thought it was really dope and Game really ventured out there with that tape. Its also when again realized how lyrical Game was so I already knew this album was about to be fire

    • panamajackson

      i didnt even listen. its hard to keep up with mixtapes.

  • NomadaNare

    But your premise that theres little replayability in TPAB is flawed I think Alright goes as does King Kunta as does Momma as does Hood Politics as does Mortal Man Im still bumpin TPAB on the regular because the beats and lyricism go so hard Never was much of a Game fan but Ill give it a spin

    • MsSula

      I agree. Maybe because I have not listened to TPAB in one setting but the songs that I do like are in heavy rotation.

      *Hums* “Annie, are you okay?”

    • panamajackson

      I like King Kunta. In fact, its the one song that I can constantly listen to just for the sake of it. But that’s part of the problem, you can’t just pull out a song and listen. you have to listen to it in full. which is great, i’m a fan of albums. however, its not an entertaining listen either. which is my premise. nobody wants to sit down adn listen to this whole album over and over. im glad you are…but let’s be real, you have to be in the minority.

      at the same time, ive been riding with k.dot since the beginning and that wont be stopping. i just want him to make one of those albums that nobody has to talk about how much they appreciate it bc its sonic AND lyrical content are on par. great album? of course. high replay value? not so much.

      • dadumdee

        It oddly stands in contrast to GKMC, which I could still play as background music for any mood.

    • 2011k

      I have more of #Section.80 and Overly Dedicated in heavy rotation than anything on TPAB

  • I’ll give the game a shot. I always felt he was on the cusp of something but could never find it. Since I love DJ Quik, 2 things. The Song is “You’z a Ganxta” but his best album is Balance and Options. Best production I’ve heard that’s not from a ninja named “Prince”.

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