The Game

Doctor’s Advocate (Geffen)

By all accounts, Doctor’s Advocate should be a dismal failure. Jayceon Taylor has had a train wreck of a year. In one of the most spectacular displays of self-destructiveness since Tupac careened out of control, the L.A. rapper has proved himself incapable of leaving his beef with 50 Cent alone. Game’s G-U-Not campaign has been relentless to the point of tediousness, and it’s cost him. Caught in the middle, his mentor Dr. Dre dumped him. Without Dre’s beats and Fiddy’s hooks, many expected Game to flop. If that wasn’t enough, he sustained a public falling out with his older brother and a string of supernova romances. Game, an emotional dude at the best of times, wound up contemplating suicide. With all that pressure on his head, nobody would have been surprised if he caved.

Except that he didn’t. Somehow, he went and made the hottest rap album of the year instead. From the haunting single “It’s Okay (One Blood),” to the infectious street anthem “Compton,” to the remorse-drenched ode to Dre, “Doctor’s Advocate”—the album is straight fire. The beats have that big, cinematic sound that’s been missing from so many recent releases. Game’s rhymes are infused with a potent mix of hard-headed determination and painful vulnerability, charging each verse with electric urgency. Make no mistake, Game absolutely insists on winning here. And it’s nothing short of inspiring.