As a music critic, I think that before reviewing The Game’s Jesus Piece, it was necessary for me to come to terms with a few facts about Jayceon Taylor and his music (and others should too, as these seem to be constants in his career and bringing them up seems to be repetitive for writers):
- The Game is a name-dropper – The Game is determined to mention every rapper ever in his rhymes. You will deal.
- The Game is a chameleon – The Game will often mimic the flow and cadence of every rapper he is featured with, and not always for the most desirable result. You will deal.
That being said, this album, like the last, is all over the place in terms of features. I half expected DJ Khaled to show up and shout “WE THE BEST” due to all the “it” artists he’s crammed onto this LP to mixed results. It’s clear that The Game was determined to sell as many units as possible prior to completely ruining his career with his VH1 reality show Marrying The Game. I think this was to be expected, considering the first single was the abysmal hip-pop circle-jerk “Celebration” featuring Tyga, Wiz Khalifa, Li’l Wayne and Chris Brown…an obvious reach for radio rotation before the album dropped. I was furious at this track after noticing the sample used from “First Of The Month”, a far superior track. No, this is not the 2012 version of that song, young hip-hoppers. Speaking of preliminary buzz, it’s actually a shame that Game decided not to include “Holy Water”, one of the loosies he dropped early that people seemed to like. Instead, you get a very black-and-white album: there’s trash and treasure and not much in between.
“Can’t Get Right” would have been the perfect opportunity for The Game to speak on the effects that being raised by hip-hop can have on youth, but this is quickly deaded by Game’s natural inclination to mention every rapper on Earth’s name in the first verse alone, after which whatever message Game was trying to get across becomes convoluted. The same lack of direction can be found on similar tracks “Hallelujah” and “Freedom”, where the gospel-esque hook is barely a distraction from Game’s uninspired lyrics and “what is your point, though” subject matter. It’s clear that Game was trying to maintain a theme of blasphemy once you hear “Church”, a weak Trey Songz collabo that just misses the mark entirely. Though its title seems to fall into step with the aforementioned theme, “Heaven’s Arms” makes for a good (albeit mindless) listen, despite the eye-roll inducing line where Game threatens to slap anyone disrespecting Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s relationship. But that’s The Game, hate it or love it. Let’s not even discuss “All That (Lady)”, another lazy sample (of D’Angelo’s “Lady”) which also lazily features more “it” rappers (Li’l Wayne again, Big Sean and Fabolous) and the interchangeable singer Jeremih.
“I Remember” is a boring “party” joint that couldn’t even be saved by a verse from Young Jeezy and Future I really don’t know what to say about. Why he was paid for his contribution on this, which doesn’t qualify as “good” rapping or singing, is beyond me. “It Rapper” and fellow Los Angeleno Kendrick Lamar pops up alongside Tank to assist Game on “See No Evil”, which is basically a carbon copy of the last album’s “The City” over a soundscape reminiscent of a Phil Collins song. Lamar doesn’t completely outshine Game, making for one of the better collaborations on the LP. On the flip side of that, Pusha T owns the triumphant choir wails of “Name Me King”, putting Game firmly in the passenger seat. “Pray” features J. Cole alongside a more focused Game and the multi-talented JMSN, although a first listen made me think that a Drake feature was intended here.
“Scared Now” featuring Meek Mill is the Game we remember from The Documentary, documenting his recent altercation with 40 Glocc…no frills or R&B hooks, just threats, name-dropping and Meek’s incessant shouting throughout his verse. The title track is said to feature Kanye West, but only features what could basically be a loop of his voice, while Common delivers one of the more forgettable verses of his career, though it flows nicely with the track. “Ali Bomaye” is easily the standout track of the whole album and features 2 Chainz and Rick Ross trading verses over an excellent sample of the ultra-dramatic “Seven Devils” by Florence + The Machine.
In closing, every song doesn’t need a clear direction, but too many songs without it can make for an aimless album, be it good or bad. Game seems to have attention deficit disorder as an artist, as exhibited on “Blood Diamonds”, a song that goes from discussing conflict diamonds to expressing distaste at jewelers charging too much for fake jewelry. He also manages to squeeze in Blacks robbing each other for Jordans to problems with the criminal justice system. The Game seems determined to be taken seriously as a conscious rapper to a degree, but doesn’t have the focus to actually put some time and effort into delivering a clear message. None of this is to say that Jesus Piece is a bad album, because it isn’t. It’s a good listen and many of the better songs definitely have some replay value.
Final Rating: 7/13 Tracks Kept
VIDEO: Ali Bomaye x The Game f. 2 Chainz & Rick Ross