‘LAX’ needs a prescription from Dr. Dre

By Landon Antonetti

In 2005 when Jayceon Taylor dropped “The Documentary” he had G-Unit, Dr. Dre and the rest of the Interscope family at his back. Now, three years later, The Game stands alone, alienated from nearly everyone who got him started in rap. As we barrel into the fourth quarter, Mr. Taylor proves on this release that he still wants beef with anything that moves and especially anything that raps, and that he’s still literally begging Dre for beats. Welcome to “LAX,” The Game’s third studio album.

From the beginning, “LAX” already has one strike against it; the intro is of DMX reciting one of his patented gravel throat, sadistically sincere, coked-out prayers. Now, I don’t know if any of you are familiar with DMX’s current situation, but let’s just say he’s having some trouble putting down that snow.

After finally — and painfully — getting past that intro, I skipped straight to “Bulletproof Diaries” with Raekwon hoping that if this track is any good it might be a precursor to the rest of the record. The beat is of typical fashion that you would find Rae rhyming over, pure gangster-ism with enough room for Raekwon to crack open his slang dictionary and take us all to school. The Chef goes in on this one — dropping some hard-hitting bars and trading lines with The Game ’88-style. The Game drops some decent words too. At only the third track of the record, I’m already growing tired of The Game’s name-dropping in nearly every verse.

The rest of the album consists of enough cameos to make this more of a compilation than an album. Lil’ Wayne stops by with his vocoder on “My Life.” Ludacris chops it up on “Ya Heard,” dropping some ill punch lines, and some on-point metaphors as well. Former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker provides the percussion for “Dope Boys,” a heavy-hitting track that will beat you down, take your money AND your girl. To round things off, Common blesses us with a verse on the heavily Gil Scott-sampled “Angel,” produced by Kanye West while Nas flexes his storytelling skills on “Letter to The King.” Finally, Earl Simmons hits us with another prayer to end the show.

One thing that sets The Game apart from most of today’s popular rappers is that he knows how to select above average beats. Obviously, we saw this on “The Documentary” as Dr. Dre produced or co-produced seven of the 19 songs on the album. This time around we see Kanye, DJ Toomp, Hi-Tek and Scott Storch behind the boards. It’s good to see that someone is employing Scott Storch these days; I was beginning to think that his financial woes had permanently deadened his music career. With solid production, an impressive list of cameos — most of them whom out rap The Game — and mediocre rhymes delivered by the host MC, I’d give “LAX” a meager 2.5 out of 5 on the dope-ometer.

If any of you read this review and think “Damn, homie must really have it out for The Game,” this is absolutely not true. I think The Game is one of the best rappers occupying the so-called “mainstream” today. I had high expectations for this album, but ultimately Mr. Taylor came up short, almost totally abandoning the formula that seemed to work so well on “The Documentary.” My only hope is that Dre will answer one of The Game’s 15 daily phone calls to his crib and jump into another project with him. Until then, I’ll be listening to Ice Cube’s new album to get my West Coast fix.