While The Game has built up a reputation for putting out consistent albums, "Year of the Wolf" is, unfortunately, not one of them.
Game doesn't quite get the respect he deserves. Sometimes things like his habitual name dropping and controversy divert attention from the fact that he has been one of the most consistent rappers over the last decade. Since the release of his debut, The Documentary, he's delivered a series critically acclaimed albums, out-rapped many of his counterparts and at one point, was one of the only rappers popping on West coast. However, with the release of his latest effort, Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf, he's offered another reason for fans to forgot just how good he is.
As an artist, Game is a chameleon of sorts. Normally, a testament to his dedication as a student of the game, his ability to maneuver between characters and mimic flows is a hindrance on Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf. He proclaims himself the 'Black Marshal Mathers,' raps like a chainsaw-wielding Slim Shady and mentions thinking he was Eminem all within the first three songs on the album. He goes from paying homage to the Detroit rapper to sounding like a wannabe, real quick. This also happens on the project's first posse-cut, "Really." It features Yo Gotti, 2 Chainz and T.I., and all four rappers using the almighty Migo-flow. Here, Game is completely out-shined by not only Gotti, Chainz and Tip, but also his usage of the overly used flow.
The Lil Wayne and Chris Brown-assisted "Fuck Yo Feelings" is the first of too many songs geared towards clubs and young fans. Lil Wayne, who has been on fire as of late, barely even shows up on the record, only taking on hook duties. "Or Nah", featuring Too Short, Problem, AV and Eric Bellinger and "Best Head Ever", featuring Tyga and Eric Bellinger are about sexual conquests with thots, while "On One" is a lame excuse for a 'I hate that I love you' song and features King Marie and a typical Ty Dolla $ign verse (She give me that wet-wet / I give her this pipe). Tyga also pulls up on the hood love song, "Take That."
From a production standpoint, Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf also falters. The Grammy Award-nominated rapper normally surrounds himself with stellar production. Here, Game seems more concerned with chasing trends like with the DJ Mustard produced "Or Nah" and the Mustard rip-offs "On One" and "Take That." He rides the Atlanta wave on a cut like "Fuck Yo Feelings."
The album isn't all bad. There are certainly moments where the best of Jayceon Taylor is on display. He's at his best on gems like "The Purge", the heartfelt bonus cut, "Bloody Moon" and "Black On Black", which features Jeezy and Kevin Gates.
"Purge Sandusky / Purge Zimmerman / Purge every motherfucker raping women and / Purge niggas killing kids," spits Game on "The Purge", which features a chilling hook from singer-songwriter, Stacy Barthe. A stark contrast to much of what's found on Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf, the song details a character as he questions the society he lives in, and subsequently sets out to avenge the innocent victims of the society's ills. Game touches on some really sensitive and controversial themes on this emotionally charged record.
In an era of hip hop where rappers are more focused on melodies and swag than they are on lyrics, Game manages to still be a rapper's rapper. Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf is full of clever lines and creative wordplay, like on the ode to his love of hip hop, "Married to the Game", where he spits, "Sitting on a hill, son / Keri in this motherfucker."
On "Bigger Than Me", an aggressively competitive Game calls out much of what he doesn't agree with in this current era of hip hop. "Mute BET ciphers, cus I don't wanna hear that shit," he says, while firing shots at "soft ass" rappers with their "weak ass" lyrics. Reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar's attention-grabbing verse on Big Sean's "Control" last year, the Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf single ruffled more than a few feathers when it was released earlier this year.
"Hit Em Hard", which features a Bobby Shmurda hook and verses from Freddie Gibbs and Skeme, finds Game being imaginative and descriptive when rapping about a pretty mundane topic in rap music: being a G with a gun. He raps about Shmoney dancing with guns, busting guns and using the Uber app to hop in a taxi after busting those guns.
To be fair, it must be noted that Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf isn't technically a "Game album." It's being touted as a compilation album. The sole purpose of the offering is to showcase the new talent signed to Game's newly formed label, Blood Money Entertainment. The issue is that signees Dubb and Skeme only appear on five songs throughout the 16-track album. Also, the fact that the album isn't short on features sort of allows for standout moments from Dubb (See "Trouble On My Mind" and "Food For My Stomach") to be overshadowed.
Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf is mostly a collection of uninspired and easily forgettable songs. Not even appearances from superstars like Lil Wayne, T.I., Chris Brown and others or production provided by heavy weights like Boi-1da and DJ Mustard could save the project from being a totally uneventful affair. Next up for Game is the sequel to 2005's The Documentary. We're assuming (or at least, hoping) he saved all of his better records for that album.