Can you believe it’s been ten years since this album came out?
Was there any other album before this one that had such anticipation as this one? Maybe The Black Album did, but no one, NO ONE, had an entire coast in the palm of his hand, anticipating his release like Game did back in 2004/2005.
In 2003, Game started hanging out with 50 Cent and the Unit, appearing in their music videos, hopping on mixtapes, providing guest verses, etc. He was the West Coast representer in G-Unit, much like Young Buck held it down for the South.
By 2004, Game was building his name and brand. He would get his own edition in the legendary G-Unit Radio mixtape series and would follow it with the second installment of his mixtape series You Know What It Is.
By the fourth quarter of 2004, you knew of Game. If you were on the West Coast specifically California, you definitely knew Game. You couldn’t escape his buzz. You couldn’t wait until he released his debut album. Shit, I was one of those anticipating the fuck out of this album. Plus, the fact that he was from Los Angeles increased the anticipation. We had even referred to him as the savior of the West Coast.
I remember a night in late 2004 where I became attached to my alarm radio—damn remember that? It was tuned into the local rap station or L.A.’s Power 106. Anyways, I believe they were about to premiere the lead radio single off his album. “Westside Story” was released a few weeks before as the album’s street single. I believe they kept teasing the song until late into the program’s hour, and then they finally played “How We Do.”
My first thought of the single was that it was dope. The Dr. Dre beat was funky. The combination of 50 Cent and Game looked to be a winning one—later records would prove this theory to be true.
A few weeks later, the music video would come out. The message board I was on would instantly gravitate toward the music video. This was around the time when .gifs were on their way towards superstardom. Everyone wanted a .gif of some part of the video. I vividly remember one .gif that had the Cadillac Escalade with the suicide doors.
Like I said, if you where from California, you were anticipating this album, you wanted this album.
I was a sophomore in high school when the album was on the verge of dropping. Everyone in my school was hyped for this album. Every one was claiming Game was “bringing the West back.” Every one was riding with Game.
I remember some of my friends couldn’t wait for this album. They were craving for the bootleg to hit the Web. And it did. Once it did, the game was over, no pun intended.
If you knew where to get leaked music—not many did—you were excited because you saw this album as a moneymaker. The demand was high, so you could cash out. I thought about it but went against it. I hooked my friends up but that’s it—at most I probably made like ten dollars. Once it leaked, it seemed like everyone in the city was bumping the same shit: Game.
If, at the time of this album release, you weren’t fucking with G-Unit or Game, I…I have no words for you. You weren’t a fan of rap. You didn’t fuck with the unstoppable movement that was G-Unit.
This album was dope. Even if you didn’t like the entire or majority of the album, you didn’t exactly hate it. There was at least one thing you liked about it. Whether that was the thunderous Timbaland beat on “Put You On The Game,” or the infectious hooks from 50 Cent on “Hate It or Love It” and “How We Do,” there was something you liked.
From top to bottom the album is solid.
The only “hiccups” on the album are the Mary J Blige featured “Don’t Worry”—I’ve never liked when Mary would hop on and do the chorus on a rap song, and “Special.” I just couldn’t fuck with the latter.
The beats were banging. The lyrics were dope. Game’s perspective was different than anything that was currently out. The stories in his verses were refreshing. Plus, Game made gangbanging a bit more mainstream – some people starting claiming blood, and fake gangbangin’.
And he would namedrop rapper’s names like crazy. It came to a point were every one thought his lyrics were just other rappers’ names.
With each listen, the album got better.
In the beginning, I leaned toward “Higher” and “Put You On The Game” as my favorites off the album. However, with each gradual listen, songs like “Don’t Need Your Love,” “Where I’m From,” “Runnin’,” and “Like Father, Like Son” would give those other two songs a run for their money.
As of this blog post, “Don’t Need Your Love” is my favorite. The emotion, pain and depth of the song are the reasons I fuck with this song. Game let it all spill onto the page. He spoke about being passed on by several record labels and coming from nothing to becoming something. This, this is Game at his finest.
The album is near classic. It came out during the perfect time. It came out at the top of the year and I’m sure it made it to everyone’s end of the year best-of list, if that sort of thing matters to you. It was definitely in my top five.
The man behind the album may resemble bi-polar symptoms but he did give the world an amazing album. You may not like Game now—I’m 50-50 on him—but I cannot deny the fact that he put his heart, soul and tears into this album, creating a near-masterpiece.
If you’ve been living under a rock or were too young to live this album, I suggest you check it out in the very near future. Although the West really never left–thank God for the underground–this album helped put the West back on the motherfucking map.
So thank you Game, thank you Dre, thank you 50 and the rest of the Unit, for helping Game create such a great album that evokes the same feelings I felt in 2005 in the year 2015.
(Yes, I was a fan boy)