What is it about sequels? Among the undoubted excitement that surrounds the announcement of a second instalment to a revered original, there is always that question of whether the continuation of the brand will tarnish its legacy. This is the risk The Game took when naming his latest piece of work, The Documentary 2, a follow-up to his 2005 debut album that introduced the Compton, California emcee to the world.
Since then, only his second studio album, The Doctor’s Advocate (2006), has received acclaim from fans and critics alike, with The Game underwhelming with efforts such as LAX (2008) and The R.E.D. Album (2011). Despite this, Chuck Taylor’s rapping abilities have never really been brought into question, which always allows for hype to develop when he announces another project, with this occasion being no different.
The album begins in exciting fashion, mostly due to the fact that it appears to be following a story arc, in a similar style to that of fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar’s good Kid, m.A.A.d City (2012), and incidentally, Lamar appears on the first track. ‘On Me’ uses Erykah Badu’s ‘On & On’ as the sample-based platform to introduce the album, on which The Game and Kendrick impress as a duo comparable to a previous song they made together, ‘The City’, which was used in the same way on The R.E.D. Album. This scrumptious starter is a sign of things to come and is succeeded by a solid selection of tracks. ‘Step Up’ Ft. Dej Loaf & Sha Sha (that incorporates a twist on Brandy’s ‘I Wanna Be Down’ as the chorus), ‘Don’t Trip’ Ft. Ice Cube, Dr Dre & Will.I.Am, ‘Standing On Ferraris’ Ft. Diddy, ‘Dollar and A Dream’ Ft. Ab-Soul and ‘Made In America’ Ft. Mvrcus Blvck all make for good listening. As you can probably tell from the aforementioned list of tracks, features are an essential feature of The Game’s album, and not for the first time.
Although there are some positive moments, the good start is met with a slight decline due to some questionable decisions on The Game’s part. The already lengthy track list is clogged up further by songs like, ‘Hashtag’ & ‘B*tch You Aint Shit’, which could have easily been left aside and despite the presence of Hip Hop legend, Q-Tip, on the latter part of ‘Circles’, the inclusion of the TCQ frontman seems somewhat out of place – irrespective of his tidy verse – and that is exposed through the change up of instrumental.
Then comes the customary appearance from Future, who provides another hook on ‘Dedicated’ that is likely to be murmured by fans of his for a while. The Game returns to form on the beautiful, Mike Will produced, ‘Summertime’ – a typically smooth ode to everybody’s favourite season of the year, before Kanye West provides the assist on ‘Mula’, a track that’s carried by its aggressive production, if let down by the lyrical content. Possibly the most disappointing moment on the album can be heard on the title track, which is produced by DJ Premier AND Dr. Dre, as expectations of an absolutely masterpiece are cruelly misguided. Premo’s signature vocal samples and scratches are apparent, but everything else sounds messy and disorganised, almost as if the two legendary producer’s styles were clashing. This coincides with the mixed end to the album, with songs like ‘New York New York’, ‘Just Another Day’ & ‘100’ – which features an almost lazy contribution from Drake – providing a positive conclusion, while the final track, ‘LA’, doesn’t live up to the city’s illustrious standing.
The Documentary 2 is a decent, if protracted album, which has a few moments worthy of the Hip Hop legacy that Compton has built, but with 2015 being a very strong year for bodies of work in Hip Hop, you can’t help but feel marginally underwhelmed by the project as a whole. Too many guest appearances seem to distort your view of the fact this is supposed to be The Game’s album, whilst the extensive track list finds the repetitive nature of The Game’s lyrical content visible. This is not his worst album, but it’s definitely not his best.