When ‘The Game’ announced his last album with Interscope Records, no one was really that disappointed, because lyrically he hadn’t be that strong as he used to, and his drama behind the music was more of a defeat to his character than a builder, but we’re not perfect. It’s funny because The R.E.D Album wasn’t that bad, but the features really saved it for him, including the legendary verse from Kendrick Lamar on ‘The City’. That album was more like a piece of filler that was just good for the moment, but people still listen to The Documentary and The Doctor’s Advocate, so he has that going for him
When he debuted the first cover image for Jesus Piece, the internet world went crazy.
As you can see, you know that it’s extremely sacrilegious and disrespectful if you’re a devote Christian, but honestly, all I could do was laugh when I saw it because it was such an attention grabber, you almost had no choice but to listen to the album because of the cover itself. Turns out – that’s just the cover for the deluxe version; the Standard version is of his brother that was killed, and the album title is handwritten by The Game’s son (good kid, m.A.A.d city inspired?).
I had no idea what the concept was around it, but by my guesses, it was religion inspired in a sense, because we all know about The Game’s near death experience, so maybe it was like an audible repent of his sins that he’s committed for the past year or maybe beyond that. There are features on practically every song on the album, so we’ll see if the tracks could match the attention popping cover that was shown to us earlier in the year.
No formal intro, the album just went straight into it; Scared Now is a recollection of ‘what was’ with the classic Game ‘name dropping’ style that has made his career distinguishable in hip hop. Recalling his early career with 50 cent and professing his disdain for his city because it was the location where The Notorious B.I.G was murdered were a part of the ‘confessional’ that Game was delivering. A line that made me laugh a bit was: “Chased that nigga down, put him on Worldstar/ Bitch nigga got away in his girl’s car” – now, I’m not sure if he’s referring to his incident with 40 Glocc, but I’m pretty sure he’s referring to his incident with 40 Glocc. The Game is infamous for taking styles of other rappers and using them on his own tracks. That’s nothing new, so I had to look past that as I was listening to the album. Meek Mill, still buzzing from his debut album, Dreams & Nightmares, provided a dope verse in classic Meek Mill manner. This is a luxury gangster street rap album and the beat for this track is crazy, so it was a perfect fit for Meek.
Quick history lesson for those who didn’t know, including me; Ali Bomaye is a phrase from the Congolese people that were rooting for Muhammad Ali against George Foreman in the classic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in 1974. In English, it is translated as: ‘Ali, kill him’ (Wikipedia taught me well). So, with that being said, how that correlates into this song, maybe Game is chanting this to kill the rap game because he’s considered one of the greats already and demands his respect. Again, that’s what I thought, but it was completely something else. 2 Chainz leads off on the track – luxury raps commence. The Game & Rick Ross (*laughs at Rick Ross*) lay down their gangsterisms (*laughs at Rick Ross again*) on the track, and this album is already 2 for 2 on beats, because this one is a great one too. I like how Game used references like: Rumble in the Jungle, Thrilla in Manila & Foreman Grill to pay homage to the famous Boxer, Ali. At the end of the song, there’s a skit (a funny one) about someone that just bought a Jesus Piece (Diamond or Gold chain with a Diamond or Gold Jesus head pendent, made famous by Kanye West). Black people with money worship money and spend it blinging up Jesus to show love to their Lord and Saviour – how’s that for religious? It’s the hypocrisy of it all that I think Game was trying to convey here. It might have flown over people’s heads, or maybe I’m making too much out of something so simple.
The title track, Jesus Piece featured Kanye West & Common; I thought this was going to be crazy, but it turned out disappointing because Kanye didn’t have a verse – only a half-line on the hook; sort of like when Game was on Kanye’s ‘Crack Music’ hook for Late Registration, so I get it. Diving back into the memories of the deaths of Tupac & Biggie, when Game gets deep with his lyrics, it’s reminiscent of the old Game we liked from the beginning. The religious references would continue and be consistent throughout, but the contrasts between the rich and poor on the track are deep to an extent. Common gave a heartfelt verse as well, so it wasn’t that bad. I still would have liked to hear Kanye say something, because we all know he was the groundbreaker when it came to raps related to Jesus (Jesus Walks – we all remember).
JMSN is literally all over the place, and it’s crazy because I was only familiarized with him a couple of months ago on Twitter, and now he’s on everyone’s album and collaborating with the best of them right now. You have to admire the success. J.Cole has been having a great year for feature verses (Green Ranger, Louis Vuitton, 24K of Gold) and ‘Miss America’ was a hit leading up to his 2nd album due out early next year. The two talented artists come together on what’s one of the better tracks on this album, and so far there are a lot of good ones. Almost all of them are enjoyable. Pray took it to another level, however. It sounds like Drake wrote this verse for Game, but it doesn’t matter because he did the Cool & Dre beat justice. I don’t pray often, but for those that do, prayer helps get people through their daily struggles. Game is reaching out to his loved ones and reassuring that he’s there for them. He took a step away from his traditional gangster self and dug deep for the soul searching. J.Cole’s verse was about a past love that he wants to pursue, but maturely stays back and turns out that she had an STD and she paid the consequences from the guy who got it from her. That’s real, because you never know – that could have been you. I think that’s why I love this song so much because it broke it down to the real and situations that people could relate to. Pray to keep your heart clean and your mind free.
The beginning of Church sounded like a twerk song, and guess what? IT’S A TWERK SONG! AHHHHH SHIIIIT! The common stereotype about people is that they do God knows what from Monday to Saturday, go to Church on Sunday to declare all of those sins null and void, then proceed to do the same routine week after week. I’m a heathen, so if I sin, there’s no point in me going to church because I know there’s a slim chance that it will significantly change anything that I’ll do in the next coming weeks, but that’s just me; others are different. Trey Songz is someone I cannot bear to listen to on a regular basis, and Chip the Ripper (or King Chip as he now goes by) didn’t do much purpose for this song, so this one was just filler to me. Church = Strip Club essentially (do they play ‘Amen’ there as well? Badum Tsss). The skit after the song is another one of those stereotypes we can relate to. People go to church, they hear the good word, then after church is over, the holiness stops and the devil takes over yet again by committing sins. It’s like Church serves as a reset option on Grand Theft Auto.
First time I heard All That (Lady), I was in the middle of a text conversation and I had to put the phone down because I heard the D’Angelo sample. I was like “YES!” Not only was the original song amazing, the sample was used well, and the features were dope. Lil Wayne usually annoys the hell out of me, but he went to work on this song. Jeremih on the hook, Big Sean with a dope verse, and then just as I thought Fabolous was going to have a verse, it just faded out. That was kind of weird, but I wasn’t going to complain – the song was overall smooth and a great song for the ladies – Loved it. Heaven’s Arms is also one of the better songs on the album, and it’s the only one that doesn’t have a feature – shocking. Luxury raps & name drops; there’s nothing more to it, but for a song that’s only him on his own, it’s still dope. The fact that he called Obama ‘his nigga’ was funny. Name Me King with Pusha T set fire to the rain, if I may quote Adele. Pusha is known for his abundance of raps about drug dealing (specifically Cocaine), the luxury and his religious references for his projects (Fear of God, Wrath of Caine). This is another good one; Game puts himself as a rebel that takes the crown from the Throne and proclaims himself the king. Pusha put in a dope verse and held it down for the majority of it.
See No Evil was a track that I was looking forward to hearing on the album, because it had Kendrick Lamar on it. I’m a fan of Kendrick; y’all know this, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. Despite the fact that Tank had a comedic thrashing on Twitter from a picture a few weeks back, he’s still a singer that has flown under the radar, but has been featured a bit here and there, plus his tour with Tyrese & Ginuwine. The opening line when Game states that ‘he doesn’t read XXL and he totes a .45 to church, they say he’s going to hell’ (paraphrased; not exact lyrics). Evil is in all shapes and sizes; spirits and structures. The Game dives into his demons and talks about his life back in the day before the music: selling drugs, the violence, troubles with family, and his gang affiliation. It’s descriptive and vivid in the imagery. For example:
‘It’s a blessing when you die in your sleep, because the coroner doesn’t leave no sheets.’ Lines like that one is one reason why I love hip hop so much. It’s artistic, and it’s coming from the real pits of the soul that put you into the perspective of a life that no one really would want to walk into and be apart of. Kendrick’s verse puts him in his present state of success: taking care of his family and close friends that helped him get to where he’s at. But at the same time, he can’t shake off the evil he witnessed years back which involved some gun violence and snitches. Until you see no evil, you haven’t seen anything, but when you do, you can’t say anything. Tank was very autotuned on this one, so that could have been a bit distracting for many, but it was alright. This is one of the best songs on the album just because of the fact that Game & Kendrick, both being from Compton, continue to put into perspective, that gritty scenery that many are unfamiliar with. It’s a scary sight.
Sidenote – I was surprised that Nipsey Hussle wasn’t on this album. I don’t know why, but maybe it’s because he’s a Crip? I don’t know, but that would have been cool.
A true confessional on Can’t Get Right is one that many can all attest to, because no one really wants to go to hell, but we don’t want to exactly devote ourselves to being religious. Living right and being who we are is something that a lot of people want, but don’t want the religious baggage around. I can understand that. Game is pouring out how he feels, and since this is the last Interscope album he’s putting out, it was fitting that he talks about the challenges of putting out music with Dr. Dre, and how he’s grateful of the fact that he’s one of the ‘patients’ that has gone rich while being mentored under him (Snoop, Eminem, 50, and now Kendrick). This album is like the gangster who has done so many jobs, but is now trying to find God to make his life go the right way although he knows he’s not perfect. This song pretty much sums up the theme of the album.
Hallelujah accompanied by Jamie Foxx is that redemption song; the gospel cries out to the Heavens and rejoices for those who wish to be redeemed of their sins. When we’re in church, it doesn’t matter who’s there at that point, because we’re all in the ‘House of God’ and no one is judged before him. These are the inner thoughts that go through our head that Game expresses, varying from the girls who were just at the club popping their booties for a Louis bag, and the guys who snitched on your homeboy who’s doing time instead of him. All of that doesn’t matter at that point, because no one is perfect and judgement shouldn’t be cast. Game ties in a lot of the religious references to luxury (see the album cover for an understanding), so it essentially contrasts what our beliefs are. God is in everywhere and everything right? So why not go big and have Him on a big ass chain while you drive in a Bentley? It’s only fitting.
Freedom is really the ‘last song’ on the regular version, because I REFUSE to address the hot mess that is Celebration with Lil Wayne, Chris Brown & Tyga. You should take a wild guess how that turns out. I like Freedom however because Game has come a long way in his career, and he still hasn’t been given the necessary credit due for his time being. Freedom isn’t free and you still have to deal with a lot of stuff at whatever platform you’re in on life’s journey. This is a salute to those who have paid their dues and a message to the people thought that Game was all washed up. Turns out he still had it in him. The PSA at the end by Kevin Hart was in a way funny, but it broke it down to the truth: You are your own person who God created you to be. We’re not perfect, and I’m pretty sure no one wants to be perfect; we can only live our way and make it work for us in the right way; a very fitting end to the album if I may say so myself.
I Remember is a bonus track that features Future and Jeezy – two of the biggest trap rappers not named Gucci Mane. I’m not a fan of either, but this song was crazy; definitely one that would get a lot of spins in the club and it was nothing special in terms of substance, but that’s just what it’s for – ratchet noise for the club. Blood Diamonds backed with a dope sample with a fiery beat was the ultimate conclusion for this album, which again reflected not only on his career, but touched on the Blood Diamond issue in Africa, which Africans kill Africans for the love of money and luxury. This one is pretty intense as well; should have made the cut.
My overall view on this album is that it was WAY BETTER than I had expected. Solid production, and I mean solid from every direction; some great features from some of the biggest names in Rap right now, and the consistency of the album’s theme is a reason why I have to put this as a top 10, maybe even 5, album of this year. Looking past the Game’s nature rap flow biting and name-dropping, lyrically it was better, the feel of the album was dope overall, and it has replay value for almost every song from start to finish. It caught me by surprise that I would like it this much, and I just may go out and buy it when it comes out. It’s that serious. Some of the ‘Sunday Service’ songs (tracks that didn’t make the album) are good too, so this is a great finale for The Game as he closes one chapter of an illustrious career and moves forward in another direction. Kudos to him, and trust me, this is an album you’ll enjoy. I’m quite surprised that I find myself saying this, but it’s the damn truth. This is my opinion; this is my review, but for now
That’s My Word & It STiXX