It’s hard to believe that The Game’s debut album The Documentary, was five albums and almost ten years ago. In that time we have seen the rise, fall, and re-union of G-Unit (without Game’s participation of course). We have seen the end of The Game’s relationship with Interscope and finally we have seen a number of decent records by The Game that still don’t come close to his debut. Blood Mood: Year of the Wolf, Game’s first studio album by his newly founded Blood Money Entertainment record label, is yet another album that doesn’t quite come close to the quality of The Documentary, only difference is Jimmy Iovine (of Interscope) doesn’t get a cut of the sales, and this album is a reminder that some rappers need the guidance of a major label.
The Game kicks off the album with its first single ‘Bigger Than Me’, rapping “These n*ggas ain’t bigger than me. These n*ggas ain’t Nas, ain’t Jigga to me. These n*ggas ain’t Em, ain’t 50 to me. You ain’t Pun, you ain’t Pac, you ain’t Biggie to me.” Reminding us where Game falls within the rap game, mediocrity. Throughout the song, Game essentially (and rightfully concedes) that he is essentially not as good as Nas, Eminem, Jay-Z, Big Pun, Tupac, Kanye, Andre 3000 and more, while dissing new age ‘soft’ rappers, and throws shade at XXL’s Freshman list.
“Hey Frank Ocean, go ahead and f*ck these f*ck n*ggas.”
While Frank Ocean is certainly part of the rap world, he is an R&B singer and not a rapper, making the homophobic shot to Frank Ocean very random and unnecessary. Maybe Game was just trying to make headlines, or maybe he just doesn’t care? Either way, it takes and distracts from Game’s critique of today’s rap culture. While he names everyone except the specific rappers he is calling out, he seems to direct lyrics subtly to Drake (as he is one of the biggest rappers out today and has a reputation for being soft). Game raps, “I don’t wanna hear it, weak ass lyrics. Crying on the hook, thinking we gon’ feel it.” while also rapping “you n*ggas ain’t sold shit.” Someone may want to remind Game that Drake’s last album sold over seven times more than Game’s last album Jesus Piece. The song’s only highlights are the Policia sample (although it is overly sampled) and a decently clever wrestling reference to Sting.
The album’s next track, while a step in the right direction, is almost the same concept as ‘Bigger Than Me’. “I don’t feel you n*ggas, man f*ck you n*ggas” goes the chorus, as Game again reminds us that he doesn’t really get along with too many people. Despite the recycling of concepts and an unsurprising diss to G-Unit, the Matthew Burnett produced track is good and Game’s flow on the song is untouchable. The albums first of many tracks flooded with features (which is surprising since Game is the one cutting checks now to other labels), is ‘Really’. And while the track is good, and even Soulja Boy makes an appearance, 2 Chainz steals the show. Next, ‘Fuck Your Feelings’ does nothing much more than remind us that autotune isn’t for everyone. While Lil Wayne can certainly pull it off in the track, Game seems to be doing his best Future impression, and it isn’t that good.
After a streak of songs where the features steal the show, comes Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf’s stand out track, ‘Married to the Game’. Game holds his own on the track, but again a feature comes out with the track’s best verse, this time by French Montana. To top it off, he does it almost with just one line, “Delonte West… Motherf*cker.”, using the rap flow popularized by Big Sean and Drake to hilariously remind us all that Delonte West hooked up with LeBron’s mom. This is also one of the best produced tracks on the album, and the only track on the 16-song album that has production by one of raps bigger producers (this time, Boi-1da).
Another head scratcher is why The Game doesn’t appear on three of the album’s tracks. Trouble on My Mind, Take That, and Food for My Stomach contain verses from Tyga, Pharaoh, Dubb, Jake&Papa and Skeme, but no contributions from The Game himself. This method hasn’t been pulled off successful since ‘My Way Home’ on Kanye’s Late Registration which only featured Common. The differences here are that Common is a better MC than Tyga, it was only one track (not three), and at least Kanye produced it. Just thinking of the track reminds us that Game should have added Common to his list of rappers that he isn’t better than. This is a studio album, not a compilation album, Game.
One song Game should have avoided contributing a verse to, as he did with the three other songs on his album, is ‘Or Nah’, the album’s second single. It is too ironic that Game critiqued ‘soft rappers’ for “crying on verses”, then he attempted to make a poppy hit which contains a chorus (“you gon’ let me hit, or nah”), taken from a silly saying made famous on the phone app Vine. To stay consistent with other internet sayings, ‘the thirst is real’ for a hit.
In total, if Game would have cut out the songs that he isn’t even on, slimmed down the large number of unnecessary features, and picked his singles better, within the 16-track album is a pretty good 6-track EP. Unfortunately the amount of poor tracks and lack of quality production on the album ruin it’s highlights, like ‘Hit ‘Em Hard’ for example. All the flaws of the album, should not be too surprising, given that The Game isn’t with a major label anymore. He may get a larger cut of the money, but certainly is missing the guiding hand from Interscope. Excuse us as we hit delete and put ‘My Way Home’ on repeat.