The Game’s Freestyle Shows He’s 1 Of Hip-Hop’s Most Underrated MCs
Tupac and Ice Cube are often cited as 2 of the greatest MCs of their generation, as is Kendrick Lamar. However, the man who bridged those generations, and put West Coast Hip-Hop back on the map, is often omitted from those conversations.
When The Game released his debut album, The Documentary, in 2005, he did so in a time when Hip-Hop had been dominated by names like Eminem, 50 Cent, T.I., Kanye West and the recently retired Jay-Z. While many regions were being represented in Rap music–East Coast, Midwest and Down South–the West Coast, was very quiet, relative to its mid-90’s heyday with Death Row records. Dr. Dre had taken a back seat and, after repping Compton for more than a decade, was grooming MCs from other regions. Ice Cube was deep in his blossoming film career, and Tupac had fallen nearly a decade previously. There was only a resurgent Snoop Dogg holding it down for the Left Coast, at least on mainstream airwaves.
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When The Game entered the scene, he unabashedly repped the Compton of old, while ushering in a new era for the Hub City. As well-received as The Documentary was, however, Game, himself was often overshadowed by the artists around him, namely Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. He also was panned by some for his trademark name-dropping style. For these reasons, or perhaps his not overly complex cadence, Game’s name was not often mentioned in discussions about Top 5 MCs.
The Game has been acutely aware of the lack of respect for his lyricism and, in 2022, he has seemingly been on a mission to show that he is an elite MC. In May, he unabashedly declared himself to be the best rapper alive. In a since deleted Instagram post, Game wrote about his upcoming Drillmatic album, “I know my album gone be the best album of 2022 cause the energy feels like I just signed my deal. You’ve never heard me rap like this, I promise you.” After noting some of the year’s other projects he respected, like Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and Pusha T’s It’s Almost Dry, Game went on to say “#Drillmatic though…. I can honestly say nothing rap related will be able to stand next to this in 2022. When it drops, I promise you that if you put your ear to it you will then understand why I’m the best rapper alive. My controversy has always stepped on my greatness, but that’s all about to change. This album has a strong hold on being the best album of my career. It’s just different…”
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This week, The Game appeared on the LA Leakers radio show to back up his bold words with an even more bold verse. Using, an original Hit-Boy beat, Game snapped for more than 4 minutes. From the very first bar, he comes out swinging, taking shots at G-Unit, the very crew that helped establish him in his early days. “Y’all ni**as got me f*cked up/Ni**as must think I’m Lloyd Banks or Young Buck/Don’t press your dumb luck/I got my g*n tucked/’Cause I don’t like how ni**as did Nip,” he raps, while crossing his heart for the fallen Nipsey Hussle.
Then, goes on to explicitly make his case for where he stands as an MC. “Lyrically, miracally, spiritually here in the flesh/How I’m not top 5? Ni**as appear to be deaf,” he venomously spits. Later in the verse, Game hints at the only MCs he might consider to be in his league, currently, as he raps “Ain’t no competition, so Kendrick went to Africa/Ain’t no competitions, Cole went and got his baskets up/But, I’m here masking up with the masking tape/Fiends knocking on the door, we closed, don’t ask for Ye,” with nods to Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Kanye West.
Midway through the verse, Game makes it painstakingly clear how aware he is of how others perceive his status, and the offense he takes. He raps “I am the ni**a they never mention, in the Hip-Hop conventions/Know why? ‘Cause I remind them of the trenches/So I must be Candy Man of the era/Ni**as won’t same my name in a song or the mirror,” signaling that it’s fear, not a lack of respect that keeps others from recognizing him.
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At the end of the verse, The Game simply takes off headphones, picks up his jacket and walks off like he’s just hit a game-ending home run…Grand opening, grand closing.