Sequels sometimes come with precautions. When I heard about MMLP2 by Eminem, I was really hesitant, scared, and when it dropped, I was content with what I heard. However, on The Documentary 2, Game is all over the place.
Like The Documentary, this first half of the album comes with different types of flares, but mostly it brings that riotous west coast sound that Game made popular again on The Documentary.
Game isn’t all riotous sounds, as he also delivers some introspective shit, like on “Dollar and a Dream,” with Ab-Soul. Ever since the release of These Days… by Soulo, I’ve been finding myself very mixed on his work. He continues to show prowess with his verse on this track, with rhymes, “How the hell I did it/I let God ad lib it/I put that on Leetwood/I ain’t lying on sentence,” which sounds like a reference to “Little Lies,” by Fleetwood Mac. But I didn’t make up the line, so I wouldn’t know. I know that I really like it though.
A lot of tracks transition with finesse, like from “Dollar and a Dream” to “Made in America,” where Marcus Black (the featured artist) does an eloquent intro starting off with the beginning of the hook from the previous track. The track also has Game being too weak with his introspective rap. He does this with superiority on the title-track, though.
The album comes in trying to reinforce Game’s footprint in the West Coast. His Documentary album made a new imprint after a shortage of notice since Dre’s 2001 in ’99. His footprints remain in place as a relevant rapper who has lost his sense of direction.
Game said in previous interviews and social media posts that the album would come with a little bit of everything for the masses. He delivered hard west coast gangster rap, some trap influence on “Dedicated,” with Future, and some commercial appeal with Drake on “100.” Even though Drake sounds like he is sleep walking on the track.
The mini narrative revolving around Game and his ex-fiancé come off the trio of records, “Circles,” “Uncle (Skit),” and “Dedicated,” and it’s done with such delicacy.
“The Documentary 2,” carries horns and dark piano melodies over low bass, and Game comes in with a hook adding coast equivalence and verses about being this heavy rapper throughout the years. He’s not wrong, The Game releases mad shit, so it’s hard to bat an eye. But that’s depending on how much you care. He’s braggadocios, he’s biographical, he’s hungry, fuck man, I don’t think Game has been this lyrical in ages. It solemnly ends with DJ Clue, DJ Envy, and as irrelevant as he is now, Funkmaster Flex.
To say Game is at a return to form is going a bit too far. But for me Game is back at it with the Game I fell in love with, for the most part. He has that energy and rawness, but he is now having troubles giving us an overall outstanding album.
“New York, New York,” on the other hand is great; it follows a similar style to that of “Dreams,” off the first Documentary, in the context of outros. Both records were dedicated to people who were murdered by a gun.
But with every positive there are certain other negatives. “Hashtag,” is an ear sore for those who wish this album came out perfect or near perfect. Jelly Roll, the featured artist, screams utter nonsense in the back as Game raps about things, but nothing comes to the weak “Mula” with Kanye. “Mula” has simplistic production coming from Kanye. It’s very boring, so boring that it overshadows some of Game’s slick wordplay.
When Game was releasing all these tracks to give the album some hype, I admit there were some, especially when he released “El Chapo,” a track to be featured as a bonus on disc two.
This album is loud and it is forgettable. The first half of the album starts out really strong. After a while, I care less for the second half of the first album, except for “The Documentary 2,” “New York, New York,” “Dedicated,” and “L.A.” but only for the instrumental on that one.
In a while, I could really describe this double disc by comparing the nature of Eminem’s Relapse and Recovery respectively.
Disc One is Relapse in a sense that it was Game trying to deliver what everyone wanted. And with some standouts where Game sounds like he previously was, but at times it can sound too forced as well.
The Documentary 2.5, or how I will call it, Game’s Recovery. Eminem’s Recovery saw him at his most tamed (far from the tamed Eminem on Encore), make a well-structured album (sonically), but it’s incoherent and all over the place.
The album starts with a skit called, “New York Skit”, that’s pretty much an interview with Game about the G-Unit beef amongst the usual gang related sounds you hear throughout the first album. Like we need a reminder that 50 was a little shit at that time, beefing just to beef… At least he ruined Ja Rule to a point where he now has a reality show on MTV. And it’s funny how earlier on Game mentions how he fucks with Ja. At least he has that going for him.
Game flips this album on a complete 180, and sadly I wasn’t too crazy about this change.
It’s feature heavy like the first half, and to its benefit I actually like the features more then Game. Game has some nice verses here and there, but features from Anderson.Paak, Scarface, DJ Quik, Lil Wayne, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock outshine. Other features feel forced. Remember when we liked “My Life?” “Red Nation?” I’m still trying to figure out “Now blood the fuck up.”
Game is constantly using Wayne for hooks and it breaks my heart, so much, so, so much.
I’d like to say it’s always nice to see Anderson.Paak get his moments to shine, whether on Compton or on this album. On “Crenshaw / 80s Cocaine” Anderson bodies a hook with Sonyae about rolling down Crenshaw, looking all fly and shit. The track breathes cruising music, but Game gets a bit too reckless on the verses, sometimes a bit too much.
Unlike fellow reviewers from other sites, I find this to be Game’s weaker half. The non-Dr. Dre approved album has Game tryna capture many aspects of the California life, even grabbing Nas for a few verses on “The Ghetto,” which I abhor slightly. It’s generically written by Nas, and Game, well Game he has some nice bars here and there, but nothing is ever really captivating about the track. I like will.i.am’s hook though.
On most tracks Game sometimes feels off-kilter on some tracks where the instrumental sounds different from what his verses try to reflect. Other times the album feels like its half filler/ half Game’s image.
Game is riotous without a need to be here. Some tracks do come off with a surprise, specifically on the track “Moment of Violence,” which features King Mez, Justus, and Jon Connor, but where King Mez shines, Connor is heavily wasted.
My favorite track off the record is fortunately one of the highly anticipated tracks off the album, “Quik’s Groove” featuring DJ Quik. The instrumental brings some of those classic g-funk sounds. Quik bodies this track and Game is nowhere to be seen in my ears.
I haven’t been disappointed in Game like this since The R.E.D. Album. It’s devoid of a conscious structure, despite the smooth transitions as seen in the first half.
Scarface, who recently won the I Am Hip-Hop Award at the BET Hip Hop Awards, gives us a pleasantly heartbreaking verse on “Last Time You Seen?” The track is a tribute to 2Pac, which is a warm welcome for the two. Game is all conspiracy, which I’m personally sick and tired of (in general), but his verse was good, not great.
One of Scarface’s biggest singles, “Smile,” is referenced alongside some other references that correlate with Scarface and Pac’s relationship throughout his verse. At points it gets so personal, that I shed a tear at the end of it. But then I’d think how much better it would be if Game rapped about listening to Pac in the 90s and how it reflected on him.
It ends on a decently high note with “Like Father, Like Son 2,” which Game got his eldest Harlem on the first verse. It’s bittersweet. Bitter for the quality, sweet for what is said. Game is repenting for everything and how he’s grateful for these women he’s been with who birthed his children. Busta Rhymes gives us a lighter version of his hook from the first rendition on The Documentary.
If you think about each half by sound, you can see some validation in my comments about how it relates to Eminem. It has been said that disc one is Dr. Dre approved, while the second isn’t. And if you think about it, Dre produced most of Relapse, and had little input on Recovery. Okay, I may be crazy, but I’m not when I say this album was an absolute disappointment.
I didn’t write anything about “Don’t Trip” because there’s nothing to say but pure perfection all around on a lyrical and technical level.