Stumbling Alone

Doctor's Advocate (Geffen Records)
The Game

By Kory Wilcoxson

When The Game blew up in 2005 with is debut disc, The Documentary, he did so with a big boost from pals 50 Cent and Dr. Dre. The Game was poised to follow legends like Snoop Dogg and Eminem as Dre protégés who ruled the rap game.

But don't order your The Game collector's plate just yet. A falling out with 50 Cent and the noticeable absence of Dr. Dre mean that The Game has been forced to stand on his own feet instead of someone else's shoulders. The result is a mixed bag.

The Game without his mentor is like Rocky Balboa without Mickey and the rapper's weaknesses are more exposed here. On the first song, "Lookin' at You," The Game does his best to sound exactly like Dr. Dre and name-drops Dre so many times you could turn the song into a drinking game. For the most part, his lyrics are pedestrian and his delivery is typical gangsta posing. He's not bad, but he's also not particularly noteworthy.

One smart move by The Game was sticking to the style that got him here: heavy West Coast beats, lots of talk about chronic and gang-bangin' and a posse of guests (including Snoop, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx).

There are several songs that hit the mark ("Ol' English" is a worthy successor to Dre's "Gin and Juice"), but for every thump, there's a thud. The Game sounds like a man trying on a bunch of different clothes in order to find his own look. At times the awkwardness is almost palpable, but there's also some serious potential that we can only hope is soon realized.

Roll the dice at www.thegame.aftermathmusic.com.