The Game Names His Top 5 L.A. Rap Albums & It’s Hard To Argue Against Him
Since the release of his debut album The Documentary in 2005, The Game has been a mainstay in the Los Angeles, California Hip-Hop scene. When the 50 Cent and Dr. Dre executive-produced project dropped, The Game almost single-handedly put L.A. back on the Rap map in the maintream.
While legends like N.W.A., Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, MC Eiht and The Dogg Pound had dominated Hip-Hop from the 1980s until the late ’90s, by the early 2000s many of those names were tending to other pursuits, or simply not releasing music that was received in the same way as their prior material. That cleared the path for a new generation of artists from other regions to ascend the Hip-Hop mountaintop. Names like JAY-Z, Eminem, DMX, Nelly and even the aforementioned 50 Cent had become juggernauts between 1999 and 2005, and no new L.A. artists emerged with similar stature.
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All that changed with the release of The Documentary, as Game teamed with Dre, 50, Kanye West, Just Blaze and others to craft smash hits like “How We Do,” “Hate It Or Love It,” “Dreams” and more that dominated the charts, clubs and cars. While the 2010s would usher in a whole new generation of Los Angeles rappers like Nipsey Hussle, Problem, Dom Kennedy and TDE’s Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, Game almost single-handedly held things down for the five to seven years in between. And, with him being the bridge between the LA Hip-Hop generation of old and new, few are more qualified to assess the expansive catalog of Los Angeles Hip-Hop albums.
During a recent appearance on Uproxx’s Fresh Pair, that’s exactly what the man born Jayceon Taylor was challenged to do. The show’s co-host, Just Blaze, the same producer who worked with Game on his debut album, asked the Compton-born MC what his top 5 L.A. Rap albums were. After a long exhale and repeating the question to himself, Game gave a very well reasoned and measured response, particularly given that he was not asked to exclude his own material.
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“Top 5 L.A. Rap albums ever, hmm…,” he began. “Number one: [Dr. Dre’s] The Chronic, for me. This is for me, right? The Chronic at number one, just because in order of appearance, is important to me, because everyone is motivated by things that happened before them. I have to go with [Snoop Dogg’s] Doggstyle after that. I feel like The Chronic was low key Snoop’s first album, too.” Notably, Snoop Dogg recently confirmed that he and Dre have been working on a follow up to Doggystyle, which will arrive in November.
Seemingly going in chronological order, The Game moves from the early 90s to the mid 00s. “After that, it would have to be The Documentary, just because of what that album did. I did that in a time in L.A. when I was the only…The biggest rapper in L.A. And, I held it down for almost 10 years alone; the whole coast, the beast that came with it, wars with whoever I went to war with…”
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From there, Game moves to the generation after him. “At number four, for me, it would have to be [Kendrick Lamar’s] good kid, m.A.A.d city. ‘Cause I watched Kendrick and his essence, going from literally a good kid in a mad city, how he fought through being non-affiliated and staying the course and then putting out that album, which was the one that should have won a Grammy, to me, not saying that DAMN...I listened to DAMN yesterday. It was incredible, again, but good kid, m.A.A.d city was an amazing first project.”
And, just when it seems The Game may have omitted one of the greatest L.A. Rap albums of all-time, he pivots and goes back in time to 1991 to name an album that preceded all of the previous albums on his list. “At five, I feel inclined to say [Ice Cube’s] Death Certificate, just because of what that was to me. So, that’s my five.” It’s notable that out of Ice Cube’s vaunted solo catalog, Game chose his second album over his critically-acclaimed debut AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. While that album also was exceptional, it did not feel as much like an L.A. Rap album, given the production by The Bomb Squad who had built Public Enemy’s one of a kind sound, prior to working with Ice Cube. Death Certificate was much more of a return to Cube’s sonic roots, with production from West Coast mainstays like Sir Jinx, Boogiemen and Cube, himself.
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It should be no surprise that an artist like The Game, who has made name-checking MCs he admires a trademark of his raps, would pay homage to the greats who have come both before and after him. However, for a man who unabashedly claimed his recent Drillmatic LP would be the album of the year, it’s refreshing to see him offer such objectivity in his top 5 list.
New music from The Game presently appears on the official AFH playlist.
#BonusBeat: A recent episode of Ambrosia For Heads’ What’s The Headline podcast that examines readers’ favorite albums: