You haven’t lived unless you’ve stood beside a gold-smothered seraglio of nude C-list models alternately texting and fake fawning over a Compton rapper famed for his gangbang past. Presumably, Game’s one-hour harem is similarly famous for their gangbang present.  Even more mystifying was the Weekly cover girls’s ability to name-drop more than Jayceon Taylor, letting me eavesdrop on their tales of rampant “Girlfriend” adultery at the Playboy mansion. Los Angeles is an absurd place, especially when a significant chunk of your income depends on your ability to interview and incinerate weed with rappers.

None of these anecdotes made the cut of my LA Weekly cover story on Jayceon Taylor. Besides, he no longer smokes weed, which may explain the aggression aimed towards harlots at Hollywood nightclubs. Thankfully, some of it made the video that the Casey Brothers did (embedded below the jump). Dealing with Game is a predictably maddening proposition. You can question his honesty, his back story, his motives for sparking beefs, but you cannot question his ability to stay on message. He told us who he was on “Westside Story” and “Hate it Or Love It,” and he’s spent the spent the last half-decade hammering the point home.

I wouldn’t say that I love Game, but there are a lot of people who do. Lil B might have branded him irrelevant, but the other Hurricane has a commercial legitimacy that B will never have. Even now, with his career notably on the downward slope, he sold 100K — good enough for a spot at or near the top of the charts. What’s interesting about his music is that it has had next to no influence on the young artists coming up out of LA, while B has helped pave the lane for a generation of kids to be riotously weird. Captain Beefheart never sold records either and while I’m not comparing B to Captain Beefheart (NO, I AM NOT), it’s important for artists to challenge convention and work people’s nerves.

Conversely, Game has classic records. Two of them by my count — Documentary and Doctor’s Advocate. You can say that he got them in spite of himself, you can chalk it up to his superior ear for beats, or hall of fame collaborators, but both have held up surprisingly well. Admittedly, Taylor never evolved the way I hoped he would. The name-drops have ossified into a tic so predictable that Tyler mocked him on his own song. He boasts a Romney-esque ability to morph into different characters for different audiences. One time I watched him work in the studio with Robin Thicke and about 40 hangers-on, imitating Eminem’s flow, and going so far to openly wonder “how Shady would spit it.” At various points on R.E.D. , he becomes Dr. Dre, Tyler, the Creator, and Big Boi.

I have no clue why he thinks this is a good idea, but I do know that he is conscious of it. Game is smarter than you think is, but not as smart as he thinks he is. This is sort of his problem, but unlike other egomaniacs, he is selfless enough to defer to great collaborators. R.E.D. is not a great album, but I enjoy about half of it, and there are no other major label efforts that you will hear this year that feature the aforementioned guests, plus Rozay, E-40, Wayne, and Kendrick Lamar. His taste is impeccable, his voice remains a forceful blunt object, and he’s occasionally very funny.

I understand why people hate the Game. His propensity for stupid stunts rivals Steve O. He lies. He exaggerates. His thing with Dre is just fucking weird. But for those raised on West Coast gangsta rap made between Straight Out of Compton and the death of 2Pac, he is the last man standing. The kid brother who taught himself how to rap after everyone else had left the party. He is a traditionalist as beholden to a dead art form as Charles Bradley or Sharon Jones. That doesn’t make him irrelevant, but merely an anachronism — a popular one. After all, enough people had to want an internship with him to shut down the Compton Sheriff’s department.

I am biased. I grew up in LA on The Chronic and Doggystyle and Dogg Food and Compton’s Most Wanted and Above the Law and Quik. It’s not inherently bad to cater to a specific audience. Like everyone else, I wish dude would put down his guard and embrace his inner goofball. What made Doctor’s Advocate so potent was its combination of vulnerability, psychotic rage, and the best Dre beats that Dre never made. I doubt Game will ever make anything as good as that again, nor does he need to. As much as people scoff at his eccentricities and outlandish gestures, it’s important that we have people who continue the tradition.

Game : Blood In Blood Out from Caseytography on Vimeo.

Download:
MP3: Game ft. Tyler the Creator & Lil Wayne-“Martians & Goblins” (Left-Click)
MP3: Game-“Born in the Trap”