Gameâ€™s first project post-Interscope is an easy contender for mixtape of the year.
Game has held an interesting position in the rap game since his monstrous debut in 2005, The Documentary.Â Heâ€™s acknowledged as one of the premier acts from the West Coast, but heâ€™s been hit-or-miss with his projects since that first album. Heâ€™s become known for his chameleon-like style and over-reliance on guest features - issues that have made it difficult to grasp Gameâ€™s personal style over the years. He has one of the best ears for beats in the game, but his raps seldom pull their own weight in his records.
To Gameâ€™s credit, the criticism derived from these shortcomings has kept him hungry and now we finally have a project that highlights the Compton emceeâ€™s talent.
OKE is one of the Gameâ€™s best work - mixtape or otherwise - in at least seven years. Though the credits show little change in the abundance of features in Gameâ€™s work, these features are often vocalists for hooks.
Game reaches technical heights on OKE that heâ€™s seldom come close to since his first album. Take, for example, his verse in â€śWelcome to California.â€ť Game delivers a slew of bars, one after the other, in such a way that the words are easy to follow and the content isnâ€™t sacrificed for technique, as is often the case when rappers attempt the flow Game uses here.
Or look at â€śLove on Fire,â€ť a powerfully emotional track where Game vents his frustrations about his motherâ€™s coma.
â€śLove on Fireâ€ť is not an easy listen. Gameâ€™s lyrics blend intense rage with a feeling of profound helplessness. Frankly, itâ€™s hard to simply discuss a song like this. Take this bar for example - â€ś Let the lord take me from my fuckinâ€™ mama / Iâ€™ma kill myself / Break in heaven / Then itâ€™s gonâ€™ be drama.â€ť That reads completely different from how it sounds. â€śLove on Fireâ€ť is among the most uncomfortable, evocative and humbling rap records in a very long time; right up there with songs like Ab-Soulâ€™s â€śBook of Soulâ€ť or Kanye Westâ€™s â€śRoses.â€ť
The 19-track tape has itâ€™s share of throw-away tracks however. Songs like â€śFuck a Bitchâ€ť are worth about as much as their title, and Game (and his guestâ€™s) bars are nothing special on â€śTDâ€ť or â€śTurn Down for What.â€ť These tracks make up a small chunk of the tape that seems dedicated to radio records - which doesn't make much sense since OKE is a mixtape and is mostly free of the pressure to appease radio.
That aside, OKE is a stellar addition to Gameâ€™s catalogue. Its production quality and lyrics rival or exceed many mixtapes and even some albums of the past year, even if a song or two warrants a skip.
If this mixtape is any indication, good things are coming from the newest Cash Money signee.