The Game – DRILLMATIC: Heart vs. Mind [Review]

The Game is the best clout chaser.

All year long, he has been on a tirade on how Drillmatic will be the “RAP ALBUM OF THE YEAR”!!! Pulling out all the stops from joining Kanye West on his post-Kim publicity stunts to dressing like Ye to dissing everybody that ever lent him a hand, proclaiming Ye did more for him in a week than Dr. Dre did his whole career (lies). But going as far as saying he is a better rapper than Eminem, baiting him to battle him in a Verzuz since 50 Cent won’t bite. Then I heard it was an album with him and Hit-Boy, then I heard Ye’s executive producing it. Then I saw that it is 30 songs. Then I saw the features. Then I wanted to die.

Exhausting and confusing as this rollout has been, The Game is still a very capable emcee that when he can hone in on one sound and give the people HIM without following trends or biting flows or even the notorious name-dropping, he can be up there with pap’s elite. So, here I go again…

Bloods are red; Crips are blue.

I’m listening to this long-ass album, so YOU don’t have to.

1. One Time
Featuring Ice-T; Produced by Big Duke, Davaughn, & Angel Fernandez
This is a dope intro. The Game in his element with a menacing flow over an instrumental Ice-T would’ve murked back in his prime as the excerpt from his classic single “Colors” would prove. If The Game would continue to take advantage of the opportunity and provide these types of verses over definitive west coast production, even with the bloated track length, we could have a classic or near classic on our hands. Do we get there???

2. Eazy
Featuring Kanye West; Produced by The Game, DJ Premier, Wack 100, Big Duke, Kanye West, Mike Dean, & Hit-Boy
So, on the surface, the song is not bad; the beat is ethereal and minimalistic. The Game sounds hungry on this, it is all meant to work. What ruins this song and what has kept me from going back to listening to this all the way is the featured artist on this song. If you read my review for the demo tape that was Donda 2, you know that Kanye West hasn’t been my favorite for much of 2022, and this was the event that kickstarted it.

From his declaration of not seeking therapy (for conflicts he created) to his quest of beating up Pete Davidson for fucking the love of his life and bearer of his children, not only does Kanye makes his verse a cringeworthy experience, but it is incredibly dated now. Pete and Kim are no longer together, and Ye has gone into somewhat of hiding; Donda 2 was a botched effort in comparison to Donda 1, the rest, I don’t even feel like getting into; I did enough of that this year. What I will say, what was supposed to be Game’s launch back into mainstream relevance, ended up with him playing second fiddle to Kanye’s over-the-top thirst for attention. But hey, great minds think alike. You’ll see later in the album.

3. Burnin Checks
Featuring Fivio Foreign; Produced by Davaughn
Excluding “Eazy” from this because we heard it already, now we can react to the album properly. This here is where the problems start. The Game sounds so out of place on this drill beat. It only confirms what I and others have felt about The Game since the start; he sacrifices originality and crafting his own sound to comply to whatever the hottest trend and rappers are and copying their sounds, their flows, and their personas. This song is forgettable. If you heard one Fivio verse, you heard ‘em all.

4. Voodoo
Featuring BOA QG; Produced by Big Duke
The title and track itself takes a clip from a song by rapper BOA QG that went viral earlier this year and weaves two verses together. The second verse cements what he is with the first explaining why he does the things he does. It is a glimpse into the street life that only revered emcees like Game is capable of pulling off in this stage in their careers. The sample can be a little overbearing but not enough to eliminate any enjoyment from the record. It’s a highlight for me.

5. Home Invasion
Produced by Big Duke
The best track on the album thus far. Hands down.

The Game is spitting rapid-fire over a beat that reminded me a lot of 90s gangsta rap. Game never lets his foot off the pedal as he’s rapping like he has a point to prove, and with that, my hopes for this album have increased immensely.

6. O.P.P.
Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again; Produced by DJ Paul & Jason Goldberg
So clearly, this is an interpolation of Three 6 Mafia’s “Break Da Law,” but Game is clearly having an identity crisis. He goes from biting the “Bodak Yellow”/“No Flockin” flow to over-enunciating every syllable of every word just like NBA YoungBoy does. Speaking of YB, it’s nothing new here, he’s rapping like he’s falling down the stairs like he does on every song. For some reason, this song is not on Apple Music…that’s fine with me.

7. Outside
Featuring YG; Produced by S1, Shaun Martin, & Nigel Rivers
Another track I’m feeling on this. Game and YG are calling out those that talk about street life but only examine it from their house and windows. From where they come from, authenticity is a must. Unapologetically gangsta.

8. La La Land
Produced by DJ Paul
The Game takes us on a trip through L.A. through numerous references to legendary California musicians and using baseball metaphors to describe the numerous gangs and neighborhoods where they reside. Once again, all under a minimalist beat draped with a sample from N2Deep’s “Back to the Hotel.” Game is doing what I wanted him to do and make an unapologetically California/west side album. Another highlight.

9. Change the Game
Featuring Ty Dolla $ign; Produced by Hit-Boy
Hit-Boy interpolates Rick Rock’s beat for Jay-Z’s classic “Change the Game.” At first, I felt this is a decent tribute to that song, especially with Ty Dolla $ign’s performance on the chorus and there really isn’t much done to differentiate it outside of taking out the drums, but that’s really it. It’s okay, but nothing to throw a parade over.

10. How Far I Came
Featuring Roddy Ricch; Produced by Hit-Boy
Basically, a rags to riches story with another Jay-Z interpolation tucked in the second verse.

Game, enough with the Hov D-riding please! You got another rapper to D-ride later!

Hit-Boy’s beat is smooth and Roddy Ricch’s hook, while offbeat, is competent but nothing really special.

11. Heart vs. Mind
Produced by Mustard
Who woulda thought Mustard was capable of this production? Is it me or are the producers showing more creativity than rappers these days? Game sure loves mentioning Hov a lot. Game sure loves mentioning Frank Ocean a lot. Game sure loves mentioning Nipsey a lot. Name dropping aside. I like this track. A moment of self-reflection over an atypical jazz-rap beat by Mustard.

12. No Smoke at the Polo Lounge
Featuring Jeremih; Produced by Bongo
I feel like I’ve heard this beat before. Anyways, it sounds like he’s channeling Nas on a NASIR type of track. “Bonjour” comes to mind. Jeremih was the WRONG person to put on a track like this. He sounds like he’s trying to clear his throat but ended up stubbing his toe in the process. It’s a decent track except Jeremih takes me out of it.

13. No Man Falls
Featuring Pusha T & 2 Chainz; Produced by Big Duke & Shawn Charles
Pusha T sounds like he’s phoning in his verse. It isn’t bad, but I’m not really impressed by this verse, while Game comes correct to make up for it. He still trying to bait 50 into a Verzuz battle from what it seems. Bro…you will lose.

The real star of the show is 2 Chainz. Ever since he started rapping on these smoother beats, he sounds more refined and his element. If that album that came out earlier this year is his last “trap” album, then let’s see what he can do on a whole project with these beats. It’s a dope track.

14. Chrome Slugs & Harmony
Featuring G Herbo & Lil Wayne; Produced by London on da Track & Rockin Wit Slime
So right out the gate, we’re doing a Bone Thugs tribute. It’s songs like this that I’m like, “I get it, Eazy-E introduced us to these guys, but enough D riding, I’m trying to hear YOU!”. I felt like he did a better job rapping fast on “Home Invasion” than he did on this one. The Wayne auto-tune hooks are back! G Herbo’s here. It wouldn’t be Drillmatic if a Drill rapper wasn’t on it (remembering Fivio was on earlier). Wayne didn’t really spa…blast off like he did on last year’s features but it’s a decent verse. Don’t need this in my playlist.

15. Start from Scratch II
Produced by Big Duke, Mike Zombie & Titus E. Johnson
Another tribute track. This time towards Mobb Deep. A little nitpick but wouldn’t this track fit a hell of a lot better on either The Documentary 2 or 2.5??? With that being said, it is picking up where the first one left off, this time still dissing G-Unit, wishing if he alerted Biggie before coming into Cali, he wouldn’t meet his demise and regretting going at Jay-Z all from misinterpreting his words from their first meeting. If only he would heed these lessons for a track that’s coming later.

16. What We Not Gon Do
Produced by Davaughn
Dontcallmewhitegirl speaking gospel on the intro leading into those “infamous” words from the late Prodigy. This beat is flame, number one, and The Game is depicting what a lot of us men have endured when in a toxic relationship and involving certain things that don’t need to be involved. The only problem is it’s hard to take a song like this seriously when he speaks in the interlude about how there are men who can’t defend themselves…but Game…

Don’t you have an impending case, sir?

Nonetheless, separating the artist from the art, I fucks with this song heavy.

17. Fortunate
Featuring Kanye West, Dreezy & Chller; Produced by Timbaland, Tobias Wincorn, & Kanye West
What the hell is this?

This Timbaland beat just feels so lifeless. Game isn’t bad here except for that Freeway impression at the end of his verse, but the moment Ye comes through, it falls completely downhill. Dreezy and whoever that other dude is can’t even save this. I got through it the first time; I couldn’t get through it the second.

Wait, Ye had y’all writing for this for a month? And this is what y’all came up with?

Work smarter, not harder blood.

18. Rubi’s Rose
Featuring Twista & Jeremih; Produced by Big Duke & Patrick Hayes
Well “Get It Wet” it is not, but Twista proves that he can still make one of them joints whenever he feels like it.

Part 2. What in the Prince?

Jeremih sounds like he’s still battling COVID while Game sounds so out of place on this. This is better suited for someone like Tory Lanez or Drake to croon on. Speaking of Drake…

19. Drake with the Braids
Produced by Hit-Boy
Nigga, no. Did Drake even clear this?

20. Nikki Beach
Featuring French Montana & Tory Lanez; Produced by ​mjNichols, IanoBeatz & Shon Pierre
This is clearly a leftover from Khaled’s upcoming album. When you have to bite French Montana’s flow…you have lost at life.

And Game…why you keep mentioning Frank Ocean? French and Tory are both non-factors. Pass.

21. Talk to Me Nice
Featuring Blxst, Meek Mill, & Moneybagg Yo; Produced by Big Duke & Skywalker OG
This track is a non-starter and it’s confirming what I been thinking as far as this album so far. The features are very non-essential. Outside of 2 Chainz, I can’t think of one standout feature verse and the hooks feel one-dimensional and lazy.

22. Money, Cash, Clothes
Featuring A$AP Rocky; Produced by Mike Zombie & Swizz Beatz
Another. Fucking. Tribute. And Game is wearing thin with what he is saying. This is like the third time he’s referenced Kendrick and then it leads into Mike Zombie’s interpolation of ANOTHER Jay-Z classic, “Money Cash Hoes.” I just want a track where he’s not ripping off another song. And Rocky’s performance on the song reminded me of how much I don’t miss him rapping. Sorry, but the Mob’s time has come and gone. I appreciate what you and Ferg and others did in the early 2010s, it’s time to hang it up now.

23. K.I.L.L.A.S.
Featuring Cam’ron; Produced by Davaughn
Nothing much to say here except for Game is on another NY (really UK) drill beat. He sounds better on this one than the Fivio track but I’ll tell ya this: I was expecting to hear old Killa on this one, and instead…I just got ooooollllld Killa here. Do with that what you will.

24. The Black Slim Shady
Produced by Hit-Boy, Big Duke, Corbett, & Brian King Joseph
I’m going to keep this simple stupid.

This is by far the worst attempt I have ever heard of someone trying to lure Eminem out of his man cave.

It’s one thing to say that you want to prove that you’re better than arguably the greatest rapper of all time, but not only are you wasting people’s time by starting the song off jacking his flow, but when you finally get to the diss, you don’t say anything worth going crazy over.

And it’s over ten fucking minutes! You spent ten minutes saying nothing and only confirms what a lot of us know, that not only are you still in your feelings about being excluded from the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Not only do you have this weird admiration for your idols that your way of getting them to acknowledge you is turning them into rivals, but when it comes to Eminem and Hip-Hop, people still can’t handle to this day that a white man does what they do better than them.

I will take “beard is weird” and “Elvis Pussly” over this bipolar-ass love letter any day of the fucking week! Game, you are better than this blood! Next track, please.

25. Stupid
Featuring Big Sean; Produced by Hit-Boy
You know what’s even funnier, The Game had the nerve to say on “The Black Slim Shady” that Big Sean is the best rapper coming out of the D.

(Stops to go look at his iTunes, see Danny Brown, Royce Da 5’9″, Elzhi, and other catalogs)

Aight I’m back now. The hook is indeed stupid and not in a good way. And while I don’t agree with the sentiment that Sean Don is the best, he gives a passable verse as well as Game, but the track as a whole is kinda forgettable.

26. .38 Special
Featuring Blueface; Produced by Timbaland, Kas, & MTK
Blood…you got to let this G-Unit shit go, dukes. Timbaland is not giving his all on this one. I know he’s past his prime but Jesus. Give me some hope at least. Forgettable, but at least Blueface is kind of on beat…for once.

27. Twisted
Produced by TheKii & Big Duke
It is a step above from the last two tracks. Nothing too special or crazy but reminding me of why the first half was the strongest part of the album.

28. World Tours
Featuring Nipsey Hussle; Produced by Benny Wonder & Titus Johnson
[Editor’s Note: This was originally on the album but was later removed. You (might) can still hear it here]

29. Save the Best for Last
Featuring Rick Ross; Produced by OG Parker, G. Ry & The Beat Menace
It’s just something about hearing Rozay on these types of beats. Afterwards, Game is just on an onslaught. Even talking about how he almost robbed Fabolous. WHAT?

Outside of that, why couldn’t we get this the whole album? Grown man gangsta rap. Instead… I’m going to save it for the Bottom Line.

Dope track.

30. A Father’s Prayer
Produced by Hit-Boy
Okay. Hit-Boy is on point so far and everything is going good with Game making a track dedicated to the daughters of the world. And it is going good until…

Niggas shady, so I gotta protect you, Em and Hailie

YOU WAS JUST DISSING THIS MOTHERFU…save it for the Bottom Line.

I get to this hook and fuccccckkkk, get off Hov’s peen already!!!

31. Universal Love
Featuring Chris Brown, Chlöe, & Cassie; Produced by Davaughn & Titus E. Johnson
I could see this being a hit record…if this was 2006. Jokes aside, Game waxes poetic about the ills of the world and in the second verse touches upon everything from the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, to the war in Ukraine, and everything was good until…

If gay is happy, I’m Isaiah Rashad

Save. It. For. The. Bottom. Line.

Outside of that, it’s a cool and wholesome way to end the album. Especially after all the bloodshed beforehand.

BOTTOM LINE

Sometimes, The Game is his own worst enemy.

Within these thirty songs (not counting the Nipsey track that got taken off), there is a classic or near-classic album here. As I had mentioned before, The Game at this stage in his career, should not be following trends or chasing validation from his peers, he should be settling comfortably in his position and making music that us folks that grew up with his music from the 2000s and there on enjoy as we get older and more mature. It feels as if though this is more of what we expect from Jaceyon Taylor. Great expectations but missed potential. If this album was shaved down to maybe 13, 14 songs, we may have had another one in the conversation amongst numerous quality albums this year. Game can’t do that though.

Instead, he bloats his projects to make sure EVERYONE sits at the table, even when they don’t deserve it. He continues to grave-rob the very same artists that he claims he respects; he bites flows of current popular artists when he DOES NOT HAVE TO DO THAT! He name-drops everything under the sun like we can’t decipher metaphors and punchlines and continues chasing ghosts and pondering the what-ifs of his rap career. What if he didn’t write off Jay-Z’s advice as hating? What if he stayed loyal to the Shady/G-Unit/Aftermath team? Maybe he would have been on that Super Bowl stage.

My co-host on my podcast, determined that he can’t listen to The Game anymore because of his antics and reputation throughout the years. I, however, believe that is not a deal-breaker. Yet, if the rumors we have heard about his streams and upcoming sales since the album has been released are true, was it all worth it?

Not that it matters, but for as much as the Game likes to toot his own horn about where he is on Hip Hop’s totem pole, the albums and everything that comes with it since his 2005 debut only proves that maybe 50 was right all along about who made who. But for now, we’ll ponder on that and we will cement the notion that when it came to The Game’s album and the title of “RAP ALBUM OF THE YEAR!”

Time was not Drillmatic.

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