The G-Unit dreadnaught and its stranglehold on the general pop consciousness has been effortless and effective for many months now. Like scions born with silver spoons in their mouths, each rapper affiliated with the clan has benefited from a cavalcade of star producers, heaps of PR and the Midas touch of group leader 50 Cent.

Music Reviews
Get shot a bunch, make a second-rate record. (Courtesy of Interscope)

Lloyd Banks has the street-rep, Young Buck has the ragged, fiery passion and their newest member, The Game has, well, not much.

The Game, a Compton-raised and Dr. Dre-touted member of the infamous Bloods gang, has spent his time in the spotlight picking meaningless fights with rap also-rans like Joe Budden. After an incident in 2001 where Game took five slugs and slipped into a coma, he began studying the cornerstones of hip hop (Ready To Die, Straight Outta Compton) and eventually put his thoughts on paper. Though he admits he hasn’t been a rapper for very long, he doesn’t need to; it shows enough on it’s own.

For most of The Documentary, The Game manages to mangle exquisite Hi-Tek and Timbaland productions with a staccato, tentative flow. His apparent roughneck attitude never wavers from endless mentions of G-Unit and South Central. His fealty to N.W.A. spoils otherwise acceptable efforts like “Church for Thugs” and the Eminem-produced goth-rap “We Ain’t.”

Left on his own, The Game does show occasional slivers of potential: “I wanna know ‘What’s Goin’ On’ like I hear Marvin / No schoolbooks, they used that wood to build coffins.” But Young Buck’s solid lyrical development, with two solid couplets per song just doesn’t cut it. Much like other posse-driven records, The Documentary lives and dies on guest appearances.

On the plinking, leviathan lead single, “How We Do,” The Game gets served not once, but twice. He’s outshined by both Dr. Dre’s restrained, exquisite production and 50 Cent’s giddily charismatic lines, “I’m from the bottom, I came up too fast / The hell if I care, I’m just here to get my cash / Bougie-ass bitches, ya’ll can kiss my ass.” In the midst of such giants, The Game sounds like a child.

Perhaps the album came with too many expectations: The West Coast hasn’t had a recognizable rapper for years, the G-Unit name commands extra scrutiny and a few revolutions on the mix-tape circuit pump up Game’s self-proclaimed “legend.” The disc might sound better had it come before the charming success of Straight Outta Ca$hville. Right now, The Documentary doesn’t do much besides make the public that much more anxious for the new 50 Cent album.

Rating: 2/5 stars

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