Feb 092005
Authors: Nicholas LoFaro

The Game, "The Documentary"

Strait Outta Compton…Again!

The Game is ready for the club scene but is a far better storyteller, lyricist and artist than 50 Cent, Young Buck and the rest of the G Unit posse. "The Documentary" is The Game's first album, and he has already geared away from Bacardi and big asses in his lyrics. Sure, his style is following the gangsta rap trend that he had been raised into hip-hop with, but rather than talking about his former gang, drug and rebellious/reckless lifestyle, he reflects on the fact that it almost became his deathstyle.

The Game was shot five times, and that made him change his direction toward music. He didn't even start rapping until 2001. "The Documentary," is a collection of songs recorded in the way someone would present a documentary. He tells stories of lessons learned and lives burned throughout his troubled youth.

The Game's musical content and depth will probably allow for some room to squeeze easily past his G Unit. The single "How We Do," with 50 Cent, is one of his club jams that will probably be in heavy rotation for a while on the charts, however, songs such as "Westside Story," "Dreams" and "Don't Need Your Love," are some his finest and show off a much better profile of who The Game truly is.

"Where I'm From" is a jam story that allows The Game to tell listeners about where he grew up and reveals how much Easy E was an influence. "Like Father, Like Son" is a song with lots of heart written for his son, with a chorus that shows just how much he wishes for his son to be a better man than he had been. The best song on the album is easily "Hate It Or Love It," with lyrics of a troubled family, upbringing and youth. The bass guitar keeps a steady flow, and the beats swim in and out of each other, and the soulful violins and guitars in the background add for a terrific 1970s feel.

As much as 50 Cent and the rest of the Unit want to have The Game as part of their crew, they had better keep a close eye on his gas supply, for it seems he might be climbing the hierarchical ladder in popular hip-hop.

Sage Francis, "Healthy Distrust"

Healthy Dosage Of Sick-Of-It-All Attitude

Sage Francis has finally released an album that touches on his full potential. Newly signed to punk label Epitaph, Francis has pulled himself out of the underground scene, but he did not fail to bring the underground with him.

He is a rage-fueled artist, not because he is Irish but because he is an American. He is an American paying attention, playing with alliteration and rhyme, twisting and sharpening every line of his poetry into his clever and interesting style. He is political, psychological and completely conscious of himself and the world that surrounds his foundation for writing. His screaming and stressed-out sounding voice seems as if he'll run out of breath toward the end of his rhymes, yet he huffs and puffs and uses every second to squeeze a few more words out on through each song.

Francis sounds like he's borderline screaming in his music; it's as if what he wants to say needs to be screamed, as if his message is too big for simple conversation. Francis is more of a slam poet than a rapper. The complexities in his lyrics and the topics he chooses to tackle are controversial and touchy, but he seems to fire his words in such a way that everything he says should still be perceived as subjective.

Very few hip-hop artists ever print their lyrics in the linear notes, but for those who like to read what they're listening to, "Healthy Distrust" proves to have content matching context. "Slow Down Gandi" is easily the best track on Francis' album, sounding off on everything wrong with war in the Middle East to war in the United States: "Making you think you're ugly is a million-dollar industry/up on a soap box/yelling into megaphones/killing hard rocks and using carcasses as stepping stones/they're marketing health care/they demonized welfare/middle-class eliminated/the rich get richer til the poor get educated."

Listen to the pianos on the track "Crumble," and with the Old West guitar and harmonica on "Jah Didn't Kill Johnny," it's no surprise that Francis praises the late, great man in black, Johnny Cash. It might be too soon to predict this album's success, but it will one day rank as one of the best ever made. You won't hear it in the club, but maybe in a history book.

With all the truth on this album, the Federal Communications Commission will be after this one for sure … more power to ya' Sage!

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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