Album Review: #14: The Game - 1992
by Sarah Muhammad
Perhaps one of my most unanticipated favorites from 2016 came from L.A. rapper, The Game. Though I have always admired The Game for his skill, I was not expecting the excitement that was brought forth with the release of his latest album, 1992. The album is both raw and intriguing, but listening in, you are also provided a deep history of pain, redemption and all things representing red, a color that is both symbolic of blood metaphorically for death and literally as the prominent gang affiliation which The Game speaks about candidly as playing a large role in his upbringing and present day life. The album begins with the track, “Savage Lifestyle”, a tale of the 1992 LA riots, hence the album name, and a thoughtful sample of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”, drawing deep parallels between the struggle of Blacks which Gaye sings about in the 1970’s with The Game’s own life experiences fast forwarded to the early 90’s and still today. In the opening track, the rapper illustrates the deep impact on the rivalry between the Bloods and Crips and the realization of its somewhat frivolous separation of the Black community with lyrics such as “It's a trap/it's a trap/Why they ain't tell us red and blue don't matter when you black?”, specifically speaking about the police brutality in the heat of the riots against all Blacks, regardless of affiliation. In fact, the album lyrically expresses both a deep connection and a painful draw back from the gang lifestyle throughout, specifically on tracks “True Colors/It On” (Was a whole lotta blood/yeah I was born in it/Gang bangin' my family got torn in it”), where the rapper talks about how the culture runs deep in his family and “Young Niggas” (He started Crippin'/I started Bloodin'/Now we walkin' through the halls of school/Like we don't even know each other), where he details the separation of himself and a long time childhood friend essentially over colors. The motif of colors as both a symbol of gang status and being Black in America is portrayed throughout the album as a shining reminder of the current day issues and how gang rivalry has come to a major halt due to overwhelming destruction and depletion of Black men in the community by those outside of it. Still, the album is not without it's more sentimental attributes such as “Baby You”, featuring vocals from Jason Derulo, a cry of regret and anger as The Game reminisces on his past relationship with long time partner and former fiancee, Tiffany Cambridge. The album even houses a gritty and lyrically assaultive freestyle diss track “92 Bars”, where The Game takes several shots at Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill (“My nigga Drizzy packed you out and you ain't do shit....And I've been wanting to give Nicki this pool stick”). On of the production side, if nothing else takes you on a trip back to the early 90’s in the West Coast, the track “Bompton” features an exhilarating sample of Dr. Dre’s “It’s Funky Enough” and provides a classic top-down-and-cruising feel that would rouse the likes of any true gangsta rap fan. 1992 overall represents nothing less of a hidden gem and exemplifies The Game’s dedication to both the craft of honest storytelling and the authenticity of raw hip hop in a time where it is seeming to fade.
Best Tracks- “92 Bars”/”True Colors/It’s On”
Best Production- “Bompton”/”It’s On”