God, I love the Game

Never mind that he's a capable rapper with the clout to hire elite producers; dude's like a Gordian knot -- he's made his career on making no sense in panoramic scale. Tupac was the archetypal sensitive thug, a putatitve contradiction that wasn't really contradictory at all, but Game's persona stretches the limits of credibilty. Seldom has a rap star's bluster seemed so tenuous and his insecurity, so real. He generously interlards his songs with references to the rap icons -- Big, Nas, Pac, Cube, Eazy, and of course, his (now-estranged) mentor Dre -- he so desperately wants to join in the pantheon. Often these invocations are deferential and self-effacing, sometimes accidentally patronizing ("I just might put out Detox myself," he raps of Dre's long-delayed album, saying elsewhere, in a bizarre swipe at the roughly Dre-aged Jay-Z, "You're 38 and still rapping?"), and sometimes, weirdly, both at once. One would like to ask him -- When you spend so much time talking about the unsurpassed greatness of your icons, and then proclaim yourself to be those icons... can you describe your thought process in that moment?

So yeah, Doctor's Advocate is a really weird album, dedicated to a mentor who has neither contributed a beat to the record nor released it on his label, and nowhere is it weirder than on the title track. Game drops all pretense of bluster here; he's literally pathetic, portraying himself in an introductory skit as getting drunk and maudlin in a bar with .... Busta Rhymes. "Let's take your ass to the crib," Buster says with gruff concern, "you tired." "I'm a man," Game declares, appropos of nothing, "I have a son." He goes on to spend numerous bars paying weepy autobiographical tribute to Dre in a breaking voice rappers usually reserve for mamas and fallen friends, detailing Dre's influence and father-figure status while simultaneously putting him out pasture ("Now it's my turn to carry the torch.") Dre's utter absence makes the weirdly naked gesture even more touching, as does Busta's conflict-resolution specialist verse in the middle. Again, one would like to put to Game the question: If you're saying that you're "nothing without a Dr. Dre track" over a J.R. Rotem beat; if it's "still Aftermath, and ain't nothing after that," and your record has a Geffen sticker on it, then what, exactly, are you doing?