On the eve of The R.E.D. Album -- slated for release on August 23 -- Game sounds hungry and heated. His flow has grown more nimble. In fact, Hoodmorning is one of the liveliest mixtapes of the summer, comically rendered and adventurous in scope. Here are our five favorite tracks from the work.
5. "Uncle Otis"
Though not quite on par with Game's still-mesmerizing 2005 track, "300 Bars," this hilarious diss track is a keeper. The beat, produced by the relative unknown Mars, is driven by a scratched vocal loop and tinkling pianos so explosive they redeem the Auto-Tuned hook. Game, for his part, raps like a man in thirst of avengement. He takes shots at everyone from Jay-Z - "Niggas think they the coldest, but nigga, you just the oldest" -- to Kreayshawn, whom he calls a "little white bitch." (He says he dissed her because of her n-bomb usage.) In any case, his flow is commanding throughout, though, and it's refreshing to hear an MC refuse to mince words in hip-hop's increasingly stale climate.
4) "Change Your Life"
"Change Your Life" feels like a belated sequel to Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)." A distinctly West Coast posse cut, its beat is as soulful as it is menacing. Game and his Black Wall Street cronies are going full-on stream of conscious, so there are a few clunkers, like: "She hates Home Depot/ I bet she loves tools." But it's difficult to hate a song with a couplet like: "I be on my MacBook, internet pimpin'/Skyping with two naked bitches, trying to get a visit."
3) "Drug Test" (featuring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg)
Hearing the Good Doctor and Uncle Snoop wax enthusiastically here for "bomb-ass weed" is not a surprise. But these two are ever-charismatic, and there's an unmistakably retro feel to much of Hoodmorning. "Drug Test" sounds like an outtake from the 2001 sessions, in that it has all of the dark melodic pomp of classic Dre. Game rides the beat almost as comfortably as Snoop, who steals the song.
2) "25 to Life"
Rarely does Game's introspection felt as raw and urgent as it does here. The beat puts an appropriate emphasis on Game's solemn delivery, and there's a hint of ruefulness in his voice as he discusses his messy trajectory to rap stardom. "A lot of bad memories, fucked up tendencies/Even bumped heads with this young buck from Tennessee," he raps. Recalling the desperation of his younger, poorer days, Game weaves a vivid narrative that is hard to shake.