2015 has, thus far, been a ridiculously good year for hip-hop. Almost every current popular artist—looking at you, Kanye—has put out some kind of project within the past 10 months, and there is still more to come. There has been such a flood of stellar music that projects like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late seem to have dropped a lifetime ago. The bar was set high early this year, but many artists have managed to deliver.
The Game’s Documentary 2—the sequel to his debut album—falls just short of this trend. In a year where hip-hop became increasingly introspective, where Drake can wonder on a diss track if he was in the wrong, where 2-Chainz can imagine how terrible of a father figure he would be, and where Dr. Dre can tell us he keeps a ‘diary,’ The Game’s album seems a little out of place. An entire song concerning how a “bitch ain’t shit” seems a little tired. Additionally, aside from Dre in Compton, “slut” hasn’t been used in a rap for a while, and that’s a good thing. Much of the album is either classic braggadocio—Game is hard, Game used to bang, and Game might just “fuck your bitch”—or Game dealing with a difficult relationship in a stereotypically masculine way: “This bitch always flipping pushing buttons like a sidekick / That's when I hop in my Jeep and pull it out the toxic.” Only the later parts of the album—“New York, New York” and“Just Another Day”—see him let up his own reflections on life in his city and the rap game.
Documentary 2 is not at all short on positives, though: The production on all tracks is incredible, capturing all eras of the West Coast sound. “On Me,” featuring Kendrick, turns the To Pimp a Butterfly sound into something you can ride to. “100” is a big hit, as any track Drake hops on tends to be. In fact, the features (from Ice-Cube to Yeezus himself) provide some of the best moments on the album. The breaks from Game’s overwhelming persona of a Blood-turned-MC, with a flow now more consistent than ever, are very welcome. Not to say that it isn’t particularly fun to listen to The Game spit about how real he is—there’s just been too much of that, and 2015 has called for rap to explore alternative meanings to “keeping it 100.”