With today's hip-hop, I use the same consumer ethic I do with my indie and punk music: If I can buy it from the artist or a reputable distro where I know the artist or label is being paid, I'm there with bells on but you can kiss my ass before I'm going to pay $21.98 at fucking Best Buy. There's a lot of chatter about CDs not selling as much as they used to. The internet is somewhat to blame, but it's also shitty product. How many intros, outros and/or skits do we really need on a record? Combine that with the obligatory shout-out track and you're lucky to get seven songs, most of which are probably pretty crap. The only artist that's dropped this year this side of Kanye or Nas that is selling seven digit numbers is L'il Wayne but I can realistically see The Game breaking platinum with L.A.X. While I find his predilection for tattooing his face a little unsettling, he has undeniable mic skills. With G-Unit and 50 finally falling off, hopefully for good, The Game seems poised to take advantage of all the notoriety and cross-over to settle in for the long haul.
The Game is a total beast on the mic, but he's called in some markers with big guns to help him out on L.A.X. Wayne, Raekwon and Luda make appearances, but the more notable cameos come from Travis Barker and Keyshia Cole. Those are the cameos that will sell records to the ladies and white kids in suburbia. The Game is no fool. If he learned anything from 50, it's that he's got to ride a trend or two to stay in the public eye, which probably accounts for the disappointing presence of Ne-Yo on two tracks, one if you buy the 'normal' retail version. Who would of thought it would be to your advantage to only buy a single disc? I certainly would, or at least save my .99 for something else on I-tunes, but then again I am from the hard streets of Newburgh (Maple Drive, represent!), so maybe it's the hard rock in me that rankles at such clubby fare. I can small consolation in the fact that L.A.X doesn't have vocoder or DJ Khaled shouting all over the damn track.
Maybe it's because I don't hear too much of the indie stuff from the West Coast, but the commercial stuff from the West always seems to be much better. Could also be that I wish Jay-Z would just retire already, too. I think the newest Roots record is pretty untouchable when it comes to record of the year, with the new KRS-One coming a close second, but the Game is definitely a strong contender. I'm not sure whether boring backpacker drivel like Lupe Fiasco and Kanye are in this year's Grammy pool, but I can definitely see The Game taking the title. I can already hear both of my readers shouting out the Wayne and David Banner releases, but unless DB makes a big Michael Moore turn (which given his recent movie success, may very well happen) and Wayne gets some Lasik on all those crazy facial tattoos and stops being a poster boy for cough syrup, it looks like The Game will step into the Nas slot as the enlightened street thug the record industry gets behind.
L.A.X. is a great record for a mainstream hip-hop release. I wasn't nearly as excited for this record as I am for the new Clipse or even the Lord Finesse vault series, but as far as songs that I'm going to have to see on every video show and countdown for the next couple months, these are pretty decent. There's a lot of cross-over crap that I could do without, but I think I feel the same way about L.A in general. This could be a big year for The Game, this record stands to sell well and there are rumors about him replacing Wack, I mean Mack 10 in Westside Connection after M10's falling out with Ice Cube. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, buy L.A.X. HERE if you are so inclined, and/or check out the links below.
the eighteenth letter