The Game 

The Documentary

Past Dr. Dre protégés include a lithe drawler with his own lizzingo, a bratty Barbie boy with serious skills, and a muscular slug-scarred former thug. Actually, place another mark in that last column. Compton native Jayceon "The Game" Taylor, who took five shots back in 2001, claims he Jumped on Dre's back to bring C-A back, but his conversational flows, bereft of graphic violence and misogynist mayhem, bear a closer resemblance to the East Coast's streetwise storytellers than to the California gangsta rappers he so ostentatiously adores. The Game reveals his color allegiance, but it's doubtful that an active urban assassin would rhyme I'm a B-L-O-O-D with the name of proud Crip S-N-O-O-P. Jayceon also never gets angry, except when he warns media vultures to leave Michael Jackson alone, a cause that isn't exactly creating a clamor back in the hood. But thankfully, the Game abandons macho bravado and the oral-sex skits it spawns, apparently assuming his bullet-riddled background speaks for itself.

Musically, The Documentary takes advantage of prime-time producers (Dre, Timbaland, Just Blaze, and especially Kanye West). Like Nas (whom he mentions almost as often as his hometown heroes), the Game shines during autobiographical sketches. His attention to detail (several songs contain to-the-minute timelines) and vulnerable vocal tics turn these tracks into mesmerizing memoirs. Despite the surface similarities, The Game is an inverted image of 50 Cent, celebrating life instead of obsessing over death.

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