The Game loves hip-hop. The music fills him with joy and it overflows into his lyrics. Sure, it turns into some serious namedropping (almost always), but it's also the reason why he's three-for-three in the category of dope, dope records. And on LAX, even more than on The Documentary or Doctor's Advocate, The Game pairs that unabashed love with swirling ideas and concepts that elevate the record to an easy contender for album of the year. Who else would bookend his album with spoken word from another MC?...The fact that DMX--in full-on prayer mode--is the MC makes this one of the best ideas in recent rap history. No hyperbole. It's no mistake that Dark Man X's character in Belly turned preacher and, on the intro and outro, his passionate pleas for protection, understanding and forgiveness are as genuine as they are powerful...perfectly setting the table for Jayceon Taylor's mission. That mission's climax happens near the end of LAX with "Never Can Say Goodbye." Game breaks down the last 24 hours in the celebrated lives of Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. and Eazy-E over three verses whose execution lives up to the promise of the premise...The other guest-appearances hear Game adopting to his cameo's style, from the blatantly Wu-Tang title of the Raekwon assisted "Bulletproof Diaries" or the Kanye-produced and Common-blessed "Angel," but even on cuts like these Game is still the Game. There's no hiding a face tattoo that began as tear drop and turned to a butterfly before metamorphosizing into a symbol of hometown pride. The visibility of his quick impulses, from the face tattoos to the near-tears title track of Doctor's Advocate, reveal a vulnerability unlike any other rapper today. Game is willing to let it bleed openly. He's got to...for his love of the game.
Universal Music Group
...The Game's routine is just as entertaining the third time around.
Perhaps one of the telling strengths of LAX is that despite all star guest appearances...it is very much The Game's album.
With the Game's third and best album...we learn more about who the rapper really is: a guy who loves hip-hop, from top to bottom...