As the fall semester kicked off last year, the talk of hip hop music was the battle between Kanye West and 50 Cent. The question was who would be selling more albums and who carries more clout as both their records were released on September 11th, 2007.
Fast forward almost one year later to the week in late August and two of the industries best west coast rappers are back on the map. Currently, in the world of hip hop there are no talks of Lil’ Wayne, Kanye West, 50 Cent or any other rapper outside Pacific Standard Time.
As of right now whispers on the hip hop grapevine strictly revolve around Ice Cube’s ‘Raw Footage’ and The Game’s ‘L.A.X.’ With their style, persona, charisma and lyrical bravado, both rappers fired and hit hard on all cylinders with their respective albums. Cube proves to be as raw as ever, offering a nostalgic glimpse from his days in N.W.A. and The Game counters with a Los Angeles-driven album that details the city’s everyday way of life Beginning with Ice Cube, the industry veteran, who, unlike most, can claim to be loved by both your grandmother and your baby as he does in the self-gloating opus ‘Jack in the Box.’ Cube’s ninth solo album offers a different perspective from his albums in the past. With songs like ‘Pyroclastic flow’ from ‘Raw Footage’ it is clear that Cube aims to pulverize everything in its path.
‘Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It’ proves to be a precursor to a politically-driven album that does not refrain from cashing in on the LP’s aptly titled theme. With over 25 years in the industry, the 39-year-old Cube tackles on major corporations, the president, the penitentiary system, black-on-black violence, ‘whack’ rappers and a bevy of other topics. Aside from the political semantics, Cube does not fail to give his following and others alike the prototypical ‘bangers’ one has become accustomed to over the years. The second single off the album, ‘Do Your Thang,’ offers a melodic drum line complimented by his classic unapologetic lyrics. Another ‘banger’ is ‘I Got My Locs On’ featuring Young Jeezy, a track layered by a beat that fits nicely for Jeezy’s southern swagger.
Cube only hosts a select group of featured artists on the album and he saves his best cameos for Lench Mob label mate WC and The Game in ‘Get Used It.’ The track only adds to speculation surrounding the possible formation of the tripartite for the new Westside Connection. WC shines on the track with his typical lyrical onslaught and The Game ends with ‘I’m bout to join the Lench Mob,’ further stamping the circulating rumors. As Ice Cube symbolizes the west throughout his album, The Game embodies it with the cities initials inked beneath his eye and attempts to take the heir to Cube’s throne with ‘L.A.X.’ The Game features a multitude of rap’s heaviest hitters in Lil’ Wayne, Ludacris, Common, DMX, Nas, Ne-Yo, Busta Rhymes and of course, Ice Cube.
After DMX, starts off the album with a prayer for The Game, the album’s first two songs are arguably the best in ‘L.A.X. Files’ and ‘State of Emergency.’ In the former, the Glendale resident chronicles his rough upbringings in Compton and in the latter, Ice Cube returns the favor with a feature and delivers a vociferous hook.
The Game recruits Lil’ Wayne to sing on the chorus for ‘My Life.’ Although Wayne uses the digital voice processor, the star power alone makes this song worthwhile as it is currently climbing the charts. Producer extraordinaire Scott Storch controls the keys on ‘Let Us Live,’ as The Game drops several lines towards 50 Cent and G-Unit.
‘L.A.X.’ gets a bit watered down as The Game continues to drop bars filled with B-list reality show personalities, forgotten WWF wrestlers, and of course, the always present Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
In the radio hit ‘Game’s Pain,’ he lists off a who’s who of lyricists in typical fashion, However it works as a song of praise. But, the best tribute in this album is ‘Never Can Say Goodbye,’ when The Game presents a detailed account through the eyes of the deceased Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G. and Eazy-E’s last day before passing.
Overall, ‘L.A.X.’ is the standout from The Game’s brief three album discography. Ever since his estranged relationships with 50 Cent, Eminem and Dr. Dre, The Game has ventured off to some of rap’s founding forefathers to plow through the competition. If he fails to capitalize on yet another opportunity by way of Ice Cube, the enigma born as Jayceon Terrell Taylor will relinquish the heir and the throne will be grandfathered for years to come.