Monday, August 29, 2011

If I Executive Produced The R.E.D. Album...

By now everybody who was going to check for it has already had a chance to listen to rapper Game's disappointing fourth studio album, The R.E.D. Album.

During the ridiculously long buildup to the album's release -- including a delay of nearly two years and countless songs that he declared would be its lead single -- Game apparently lived in the studio, churning out mixtape after mixtape filled with quality material, leading listeners to believe more of the same would be included on the actual studio album.

However, in this case, the levels of letdown that I am still experiencing with each consequent listen -- it is barely tolerable -- is something I haven't experienced in some time.

With this new album, he completely dropped the ball and released what almost amounts to a throwaway mixtape filled with fake gangsta fluff facilitated by too many attempts at pop singles aimed directly at the radio and video outlets, ignoring his core fanbase who helped him attain his quickly-fading superstar status.

There are too many negatives with this album -- including a misguided stretch of three songs that each feature an R&B singer -- for me to list them all.

Instead, I decided to take a different approach, sifting through his enormous catalog of material released over the past 18 months and culling together a more comprehensive presentation of his songs to form what I believe should have been the retail version of the R.E.D. Album.

In other words, I'm doing what the executive producers for this album (namely Dr. Dre and Pharrell) should have done, ultimately coming up with what I call The R.E.Done album.

1. InfraR.E.D. [Prod. Cool & Dre] -- Released last month and included as part of his Hood Morning mixtape, this song serves as the perfect opener, complete with a reference to the color red and an uptempo track that will draw listeners in, unlike the random, extraneous Dr. Dre narrator intro that repeats biographical information about Game that the listener has known since his debut six years ago. In fact, the listener can do without all three Dr. Dre interludes that add nothing to the album.
2. The City (Feat. Kendrick Lamar) [Prod. Cool & Dre] -- This is also the second track on the studio release. The only difference is now the song doesn't follow the nonsensical Dre into that gets the listener off to a slow, plodding start.

3. She Wanna Have My Baby Feat. Trey Songz [Prod. 1500 or Nothing] -- Also featured on the Hood Morning mixtape, this song was first "leaked" online in May, and at the time seemed like a viable lead single since even though it was an R&B track, it still contained those inflammatory lyrics we've come to love and expect from Game.

4. Big Money [Prod. Cool & Dre] -- This track was unofficially released in late 2009 with the promise of its inclusion on the album. It's a hard beat with Game doing what he does best -- talking shit and name dropping. It's a good fit and a better album track than those on the retail version.

5. We On (feat. Ryan Leslie) [Prod. Swizz Beatz] -- Released about a year after Big Money. You can't go wrong with a Swizzy track. Add Ryan Leslie for the hook and the bridge and it's a winning combination. It keeps the album moving along nicely instead of the retail version's constant stalling.

6. I Just Want To F*ck (Feat. Kurupt) [Prod. Denaun Porter] -- The retail version was severely lacking any semblance of that good old Cali sound that normally permeates Game's albums but is conspicuously absent of this time around. This song, originally found on the Hood Morning mixtape, fills the void and then some, authenticated and assisted by Kurupt.

7. Good Girls Go Bad (Feat. Drake) [Prod. Cool & Dre] -- It's hard not to include any Drake feature, which will ideally boost sales, presumably the reason for the collaboration in the first place. So this song remains for the R.E.Done Album.

8. All Day, All Night Feat. Cassidy [Prod. Cassidy & Neo Da Matrix] -- Dating back to October of last year, this banging club track with a dope back-and-forth flow could bring a knowing smile to the faces of Jadakiss and Styles P. As an added bonus Cassidy murders the track: "I keep a poker face even playing solitaire/ for the cheese I run through more trees than koala bears."

9. Pot of Gold (Feat. Chris Brown) [Prod. The Futuristics] -- This actual lead single for The R.E.D. Album is undeniably successful in that it has gained heavy radio rotation and features the current bad boy of R&B. I understand the need for songs like these and so it reluctantly remains, as well.

10. Out Of Towner [Prod. Terrace Martin] -- Also from Hood Morning, we finally get a concept track from Game, imagining himself riding around in New York City, Chicago and Miami listening to music from artists from respective city. The song is expertly crafted by new west coast go-to producer Terrace Martin, who ironically blesses the song with a decidedly east coast feel.

11. This Way (Feat. JoiStaRR) [Prod. Mars of 1500 Or Nuthin'] -- A nice little change of pace for the album, this song, also from Hood Morning, employs the classic Bonita Applebum drums under some light keys and breezy singing on the hook with a reflective Game affirming his position in rap and vowing never to change.

12. Rough f. Yelawolf [Prod. Jim Jonsin] -- This dark, piano-driven track originated in March of this year and continues the contemplative tone with rhymes from Game and Shady's newest signee about how rough their respective roads to success were.

13. Speakers On Blast (Feat. Big Boi & E-40) [Prod. Mars of 1500 Or Nuthin'] -- This southern rap-inflected track is aimed at that very demographic of Game's fans, with him and two legends boasting of their lyrical supremacy that allow speakers reach their truest potential. Much like the R&B-ish songs found earlier, this song, also found on the retail album, is necessary so as not to alienate fans who like this type of sound.

14. Born In The Trap [Prod. DJ Premier] -- Every rapper true to Hiphop feels a sense of both obligation and need to feature a DJ Premier beat, a move that simultaneously displays seriousness about the craft of rap as well as pays homage to one of the top three greatest producers Hiphop has ever seen. Game is no exception to that rule. The song has Premier's classic chopped up sound and feel to it, complete with his trademark scratches. Game's flow complements the beat perfectly, and appropriate name-dropping abounds. Also from the retail version.

15. Red Nation (Feat. Lil Wayne) [Prod. Cool & Dre] -- Every major label rap album today seemingly requires a Lil' Wayne feature, and Game happily obliges with this pledge of allegiance to the Bloods. It's not a bad song per se, but it does sound a bit forced with the Hi-NRG sample that reminds the listener of a timeout during a college basketball game. But the inclusion of Weezy all but guarantees a hit. It's hard to argue with that logic, so the song, which is on the retail version, stays on this version.

16. M.I.A. [Prod. Cool & Dre] (bonus track) -- Because this song, "leaked" last summer, is dope but doesn't really fit in with the whole "red" theme and is actually a shout out to the Miami Heat (or his guns, depending on your preference of metaphors) and not to his hometown Lakers, I included this as one of three bonus tracks, meaning it at least deserves some recognition.

17. History (Feat. Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane & KRS-One) [Produced By Ervin "EP" Pope] (bonus track) -- Game has always prided himself of his knowledge of Hiphop, and this track, from this year's Purp and Patron mixtape, features three old school heavyweights and is a way to back up those assertions while also getting a chance to rhyme alongside some of his perennial favorites. It's a nice gesture and one that should be mirrored by Game's peers more times than not.

18. All Doggs Go To Heaven (R.I.P. Nate Dogg) [Prod. Don Cannon] (bonus track) -- Included for obvious reasons, Game eulogizes the best hook singer since TJ Swann on a song that surfaced shortly after Nate's untimely death.

I'm not sure what Dr. Dre and Pharrell were thinking but not even they included their best work on this album, so if that's the case it's safe to assume the fate this album is doomed to.

If anything, Cool & Dre should have not only executive produced the album, but also entirely produced it, since it is clear that they have a better handle than others on what types of beats Game sounds best on, which is ironic considering the time he devoted in the studio with Dre and the Neptunes.

Game last week explained his choice of songs and their sequencing for the album, but the damage has been [re]done.

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