If you listened to songs like “Good Girls Go Bad” (featuring Drake) and “Ricky” off The R.E.D. Album, you might have thought Game was back. That maybe he’d regained some of the form he displayed on the quasi-classic The Documentary. But aside from those two hard-driving, dramatic tracks with Game delivering provocative lyrics and sounding hungry, there really isn’t anything on this album that stands out all that much.
There is plenty of stuff that’s fine. There are your typical collaborations with the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy—tracks you feel like you’ve heard about a thousand times on albums by any number of other artists.
This speaks to R.E.D.’s biggest flaw. It has no particular direction, theme or sound. It’s just a musical checklist of things to include on a mainstream hip-hop release. Call a million different “A-list” producers (the likes of Boi-1da, Pharrell, Premier)? Check. Get everyone and their brother (Weezy, Jeezy, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Nelly Furtado…who cares) to drop a verse? Check. Cover your bases with some southern ish, some R&B/pop ish, some gangsta bleep? Check.
And then you throw about 49 tracks at the wall and hope you get a hit. Well, there are no great hits on R.E.D. and no great songs either. There are lots of songs that seem interchangeable with subject matter (perils of stardom, selling drugs even though you’re a multimillion copies-selling artist, disappointing mom) that’s so predictable it doesn’t even have to be said. It’s like a movie in which you always know what’s going to happen next.
Dr. Dre shows up to offer narration on a few tracks, but really no explanation is necessary here.
None of the material here is awful. It’s all done with a degree of quality. It just has no particular life to it. The sung hooks on R.E.D. are so tired that the guest artists actually sound tired singing them.
The shame of it is that Game is a talented MC. He has excellent cadence and an ability, when he’s focused, to get off some very memorable lyrics. But rumors have it that he has considered retirement and that maybe he’s not all that interested in doing this. He also seems to have regressed in the development of his own voice. On “Mama Knows,” for instance, it really sounds like he is trying to do a Nas impression.
R.E.D. clocks in at one hour and 12 minutes. There’s nothing wrong with a long album if it has a lot to offer, but unlike Game’s best work on The Documentary this is no tour de force. It’s just a slog.
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