It’s The ‘Year Of The Wolf’ For Rapper The Game

3.5 Stars

According to the Chinese calendar, 2014 is the year of the horse, but as far as Compton rapper The Game is concerned, hip-hop fans worldwide are now living in the year of the wolf. Following 2012’s critically acclaimed Jesus Piece, Game releases his first studio album with Entertainment One Music after releasing his first five projects with Universal Music Group. Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf, produced by Game himself, along with Cash Jones and Stat Quo, delivers a solid project, filled with features of rising talent such as Ty Dolla $ign, Eric Bellinger, as well as Blood Money’s newest signees, Skeme and Dubb. While the album does not quite live up to the precedent that previous albums like Jesus Piece have set, the project offers a number of tracks that remind us why Game has been a mogul in the rap game for as long as he has.

The title of the album, Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf, is incredibly fitting, as almost every track gives off a general sentiment of aggression. In an interview over the summer with Los Angeles radio station Power 106, Game explained why he changed the title of his forthcoming album from Blood Money La Familia, to Blood Moon: Year of The Wolf: “People [are] pretty much terrified of wolves,” he said. “Wolves howl. They scream and do all of that. And I just feel like this year I got a lot to get off my chest … I got very angry artists that I’m signing … It’s a whole angry movement … Basically, what I’mma do is I’m exposing everything.” And he does just that with “Bigger Than Me,” the first track on the album, which has a violent beat littered with chainsaw sound effects and an eerie yet striking female vocal loop. Within the first minute and 30 seconds of the album, Game makes his doubt in newcomers to the rap game very clear. He raps, “I came in with Ye, Jeezy, and boss ass n—as / Your freshman cover a whole bunch of soft ass n—as / tampon lyricists, evacuate the premises / Mute BET cyphers, cause I don’t wanna hear that s—t.” Game explains his overall disassociation with many of the emerging artists in today’s rap game and emphasizes the noticeable difference between today’s budding talent and the up-and-coming artists of his day.

The theme of uncut honesty and aggression is continued throughout the project with the equally forceful track “F.U.N.” “F.U.N.,” ironically standing for “F—k U N—as,” is one of the three songs on the 18-track album that Game does on his own. Just before the chorus, the Compton rapper references his falling out with the East Coast hip-hop collective G-Unit, as he was left off of the invite list for the group’s reunion earlier this year. The beef between Game and G-Unit began in 2005, shortly after the release of Game’s debut album, The Documentary, on which G-Unit’s most prominent member (50 Cent) was heavily featured. Game raps, “G-Unit had a reunion … Man f—k you N—as.”

While Game does spend a portion of the project addressing personal issues he has with other rappers, and the industry as a whole, he uses his fearless emotional transparency to address issues bigger than himself. Following the tragic shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., Game assembled some of the most prominent names in the rap game (Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Diddy, Wale, and Curren$y to name a few) to rap over a DJ Khaled-produced track called “Don’t Shoot” in honor of the slain teen. On the seventh track of the album, “The Purge,” Game continues to express his deliberation of the world’s issues, and specifically continues his reflection of Brown’s death in the third verse. The track reveals that Game is not only concerned about his personal quarrels, but that he has genuine concern for the greater community which surrounds him.

The sixth track, “Married To the Game,” featuring French Montana, Dubb, and Sam Hook, is easily the most successful song on the entire album. Hook adds a beautifully sung, captivating chorus delicately placed between strong verses from Game, Dubb, and Montana (yes, Montana’s verse is actually pretty good). Other notable tracks include, “Food For My Stomach,” featuring Dubb and Skeme, and “Or Nah,” featuring Too $hort, Problem, AV, and Eric Bellinger. The remainder of the tracks are, overall, very mediocre. Game struggles on tracks such as “F—k Yo Feelings,” featuring a horribly auto-tuned chorus by Lil Wayne, and “Best Head Ever,” featuring a boring sounding Tyga and Pharaoh Prophet.

Largely, the album falls short of what we have come to expect from Game, yet he still delivers an aggressive, brutally honest project with a fair number of enjoyable tracks. While it may not be fair to call 2014 the year of the wolf, Game certainly gives us a reason to howl.

Featured Image Courtesy of Entertainment One Music