Review: The Game- Blood Moon: Year of The Wolf

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West coast MC the Game gives us his much talked about album Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf this week. His 6th project, Year of the Wolf is a follow up to 2012’s Jesus Piece. Despite being a symbol of a bygone era in gangsta rap (the early 2000’s to be specific), the Game has managed to stay relevant, but through the worst of ways. Year of the Wolf is yet more evidence of his present-day saturated sound. Also, there is also this whole animal angle to the album, where the Game interweaves wolf howls and growls throughout with his voice. It just doesn’t work and has nothing on how DMX used to do it.

First and foremost, there are too many features here, so much so you actually forget that you are in fact listening to the Game’s album. Of the 15 total tracks, just 5 are rid of collaboration. The Game’s been doing this a lot since The Red Album (2011), throwing big names on his tracks for the sake of it. It honestly only worked with “Ali Bomaye” off Jesus Piece (2012), where he got the help of  heavy hitters Rick Ross and 2 Chainz to compliment the beat. Back in the day, the Game used features sparingly and only because they made sense like with “Wouldn’t Get Far” from The Doctor’s Advocate (2006), where Kanye spazzes about the industry’s many video vixens. Some of the choices on Year of the Wolf are questionable. The inclusion of Bobby Shmurda for instance on “Hit Em Hard” makes absolutely no sense to me. What is this dude doing on the Game’s album? Shmurda’s hype is entirely built on his radio single “Hot Nigga”, which in all arguments is not even good compared to what else is out at the moment. I understand giving a newcomer some platform, but Bobby Shmurda? The idea of seniority, seems to be non-existent when it comes to selling an album.

On the tracks that the Game is by himself, the album turns out alright. “Bigger than Me” and “Bloody Moon” are the better picks of the selection, because they remind me of the “I’m stunting” with some storytelling narrative on the Game’s junior CD LAX (2008). Unfortunately for my once high held regards of him, I’ve also noticed that the Game borrows flows, made more apparent when he is the standalone on a track. It started with the terrible “Martians VS. Goblins” single that he pushed in 2011, where the Game tried to catch some of Tyler the Creator’s popularity at the time by mimicking the disturbing nature of Tyler’s content. A stupid move, the Game should understand that his fans listen to him because he is representative of the streets and a way of life for many. Tyler the Creator is a totally different rapper than the Game, that’s easy to see. The thing that annoys me the most however is when the Game repeats lines, because he thinks they’re really cold when in actuality they aren’t, you’ll see this a lot with Year of the Wolf.

The bulk of this release is a headache to listen to for anyone keen on their recent rap history. “Fuck Your Feelings” ft. Lil Wayne utilizes auto tune, which we all know by now is played out. The two did a decent job on “My Life” in 2008, but this time around don’t connect. “Married to the Game” includes one of French Montana’s weakest verses, so you’re getting nothing out of why the Game recorded with him, but “Or Nah” is the most ironic of singles I’ve ever heard. Just from the name, I was immediately reminded of Ty Dolla $igns’s hit “Or Nah” ft. Wiz Khalifa & the Weekend. To my surprise, Ty$ is on this version too. After a brief listen, I was off put by how alike both singles sounded as the Game literally gives the same ultimatum as Ty$ did on the Beach House EP “You gone let me hit or nah?” in so many words. Then “Cellphone” ft. DUBB comes on and you understand that this album is holding onto something.

“Black on Black” ft. Young Jeezy and Kevin Gates saves this album for me. All three do the production justice with their verses, which is very rare to see nowadays and even more so given my overall thoughts on the Game’s packed track list. Although Year of the Wolf is being promoted through its single “Bigger than Me”, “Black on Black” ends the album on an amazing note and should have gotten the spotlight instead. As I said, all of them feed off each other, but Jeezy and Kevin Gates really make the song. I’m not even a fan of Jeezy, yet Snowman did an awesome job with this hook that starts “Everythin’ wrong, this can’t be right. Man, it’s so much, this can’t be life (Yeah).” 2014’s XXL Freshman Kevin Gates gets the last verse, which I totally respect. I love that the Game reached out to the Louisiana native with this one, my bro Kevin Gates isn’t appreciated enough. His bars on “Black on Black” will definitely catch peoples’ ears though.

I know it’s wrong to constantly hold someone’s past against them, especially when it comes to artists but a piece of the Game is definitely missing. There was a time when he evoked gangsta rap in every which way, I mean just revisit the “One Blood” video on YouTube and tell me that’s not the Game we all knew. His raps and attitude were his own, now that’s just not the case. He’s adapted to a business that isn’t real to his character.

The first album I ever bought was the Game’s The Documentary (2005), so I credit him for my love for rap music and always will. Other outlets might give this album a higher rating, but a true follower of the Game will understand that this is a weak project. With plans already set in motion for a long awaited sequel to his first album aptly called The Documentary 2 supposedly coming in 2015, I’m eager to see what he has in store for us. After five tries, the Game might finally top the album that made him. Until then, enjoy the few tracks on Year of the Wolf that are reminiscent of that classic.

Rating: 2/5

Christian Westermann | News Cult

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