By now you’ve all realized from the mounting pile of CD’s by The Game on your local store shelf that his career does not begin and end with Dr. Dre. There was a period of time when Game was hungry, hustling, doing anything he could to get on and get noticed, and one of those avenues to success just happened to run through JT the Bigga Figga. JT’s career path never had any intersection with Dre, other than tangentially if you’re counting degrees of seperation to him vis-a-vis “Long Beach 2 Fillmoe,” an album he recorded with Daz in 2001. Although at one time he was signed to Priority Records, JT has by and large preferred the independent hustle, and with his Get Low Recordz he has become a self-made man and an institution from his native Bay area hometown of San Francisco to West coast conniseurs worldwide.
You can’t help but get the feeling though that JT is just a little bit irked. JT puts out underground records for years, does pretty well for himself, but doesn’t exactly become a household name. The Game sleepwalks his way in and out of an association with JT and overnight lands a deal with Aftermath and winds up affiliated with G-Unit, the hottest clique in rap music today; so hot in fact they have a hard time keeping peace amongst their own members let alone rivals envious of their success. JT doesn’t have to be left out though, he’s got a vault full of The Game’s material and he can get a piece of that pie that Dre, Eminem and 50 Cent are slicing up. It may be the smallest piece, but that pie is big enough right now that even a low calorie portion is worth big bucks. And so the albums keep on coming: “Live From Compton,” “Untold Story” and now “West Coast Resurrection.” While the first two benefitted from being released at a time when The Game’s official Aftermath album was delayed and pushed back, this newest release can ride the wave of accolades and album sales that have accompanies the release of “The Documentary” in stores. In fact the title “West Coast Resurrection” is well chosen to slyly reference how The Game continually refers to himself on his Aftermath release as the one putting both Compton and the West coast back on the map. And on the opening track they roll together straight out “The Streetz of Compton”:
The Game: “Now everybody wanna know the truth about a nigga named Game
I come from the hub and every ghetto ain’t the same
A lot of people already know exactly where it’s at
Cause it’s the home of the jackers and the crack
(Compton!) Yeah that’s the name of my hometown
I’m goin down, in the town, where my name is all around
A nigga just be hatin and shit, that’s a pity
But I ain’t doin nuttin but claimin my city”
JT: “Where they actin a fool, and they carry the tool
Them sick dudes in the streets of Compton
Where I found The Game, he was stackin his change
to maintain in the streets of Compton”
While it’s possible this track (described in it’s opener as being from 2002) is unedited, it does leave my eyebrow raised to hear JT essentially taking all credit for discovering and putting out The Game. Even though it’s not an untruth per se, it almost sounds like he took the track and went back on it with an edit to take all the credit for “finding The Game” and make sure everybody knows it wasn’t Dr. Dre. In fact the song “Krush Groove” more or less proves there’s either some original material being recorded or some revisionist history taking place, because JT actually says “rest in peace to my homey Mac Dre,” which we all know only took place last year. Either this is new vocals over an old Game track, a new song with old Game vocals mixed into it, or some weird spliced up mixture of the two.
The liner notes on the inside are pretty scant, as most of the space is taken up for a “free Game poster” as advertised on the shrinkwrap sticker – they even claim it to be a “collector’s edition” in a highly obvious attempt to copy how G-Unit releases have been packaged with bonus discs and DVD’s. A poster folded up on the flipside of some liner notes is a pretty poor idea of a collector’s edition, and I doubt the release would be any different without the sticker, but whatever. The tracks on this album are produced by JT, G Man Stan, and Sean T – though none is individually listed or credited for any specific song. JT also features heavily in guest appearances on this album, appearing on 7 out of 12 songs not counting the intro and outro. The only times that The Game rides solo are on “Troublesome” and “Promised Land.” You might expect the other apparent solo track “100 Barz and Gunnin” to be some derivative of his heavily bootlegged “200 Bars and Running” track, but it’s nothing of the sort – just a two minute instrumental with some people babbling over it. No rap whatsoever. The solo tracks are pretty nice though, “Promised Land” in particular sounds like a smoothed out R&B sampled modern day cut you would have found on “The Documentary”:
“I was, born in the slums, struggled from day one
Ray Charles vision, blinded by the light from the sun
No navigation, no sense of direction, darker complexion
made it hard to live; dad, how you fathered your kids?
Stranded on the highway of life, left us out to die, left us out to dry
Shhhh, I’m still here, my mother’s cries
Nigga no father figures make harder niggaz
Through the years, went to war with niggaz from what I saw in the picture
Now your son is bigger, 13, but just like you
Moms said I would grow up and be just like you”
Despite some problematic aspects to this album, from JT looking less like the man to discovered the name to more like someone eager to cash in on it when he already missed the boat, there’s still plenty to like even if you thought of it as a JT album as opposed to one by The Game – which it could easily have been flipped as if the tracks had been named “JT featuring The Game” instead of the other way around. The problem is that wouldn’t have marketed as well, and it wouldn’t have sold as well. Caveat emptor, as long as you know what you’re getting into, songs like “Gutta Boyz” and “Work Hard” are highly enjoyable whether or not you’re checking for The Game. The only thing that’s really bizarre here is that one of the best tracks featuring The Game on this LP is “Untold Story,” and that’s because it didn’t appear on the album of the same name last year. Why? Who knows. What are JT’s true motives? Who can say. The Game’s fans may still want to cop this, and JT fans wouldn’t really be dissapointed either, but this gimmick is starting to wear thin and may soon draw either the ire of Dr. Dre or a cease-and-desist order from Aftermath and Interscope.