Game — born Jayceon Taylor — is best known to casual hip-hop fans for his all too short stint with G-Unit. To those who follow Game closely, however, he’s one of the most underrated, versatile, yet head-scratching MCs in hip-hop. Fresh off his fifth album, Jesus Piece, which underperformed compared to earlier projects, Game is now free from his five album contract with Interscope Records. Where to go from here? OKE Operation Kill Everything.
It has been almost a year since Game released Jesus Piece, and while he hasn’t been making much noise in the rap game, he has been making moves as a Good Samaritan. In fact Game has been essentially nonexistent with music lately. He rarely speaks of new projects and keeps fans guessing on where or if he’ll sign to another label. So what better way to make a splash in the hip-hop scene than for the 10-time platinum rapper to release his mixtape hours after announcing its release date in a vague tweet on Oct. 8. This is the bipolar Game fans know to destroy any instrumental put in his way.
OKE sounds like an obscure frat on Spring Street where horticulture majors get turnt up, but the mixtape brings serious credibility with features such as Diddy, Lil Wayne, Juicy J, Young Jeezy, Stat Quo, Nipsey Hussle, Chris Brown and Schoolboy Q. The end product is exactly as advertised: Game literally destroys any beat he is given — slow, fast, dubstep, trap, anything. On OKE, Game displays his versatility and genius as any gangbanger turned hip-hop mogul. The mixtape takes Game from the “What could’ve been / Should’ve been” question mark in the rap game to “He’s not even close to done.”
Game immediately catches the ear with “Kill Everything,” where he speaks on his rocky relationship with his fiancé and his personal life as Jayceon Taylor and his rap life as Game. The song is followed by “Life Is But a Dream,” on which Game speaks of his hometown of Compton, California, and how he’s still hood even though he left the hood. The mixtape’s third song, “Astronaut Pussy-Welcome to California,” is probably the most intriguing. It begins with a Britney Spears sample and proceeds to transform into 10 minutes of lyrically dazzling wordplay over dubstep-influenced beats that eventually slow down to focus on lyrical content. It’s nothing short of pushing the envelope.
From there, the mixtape slows down and focuses on more complex and dark content with tracks such as “Love On Fire,” which speaks on Game’s shaky love for his mother, who has always been troubled.
In the middle of OKE, Game works with more trap-influenced sounds on “Same Hoes” and “Turn Down For What,” both very reminiscent of popular Tyga songs. These songs, while not very deep, are loud, catchy and probably sound great while inebriated. This section of the mixtape could produce some dark room, loud music classics.
Finally we get to the sheer greatness of Game. On a laidback instrumental titled “Compton,” Game unleashes a barrage of lyrical murder, speaking about his hometown. His flow is very relatable, with such tongue twisters such as “I’m talkin’ Bloods, Crips and shit / Bodies twisted like licorice / Watch when that pistol lift, chh chh / Niggas hit the fence.”
“Swerve” couples a soulful voice with a trap rhythm and 808 bass drums while Game preaches about the incarceration of Lil Boosie and displays genuine disgust at just about everyone. Game is at his best when he’s taking shots at everyone.
The masterpiece of OKE closes with one of the most audibly-pleasing tracks in Game’s career. “Just So You Know” blends a catchy hook with Game’s commentary on his past with Interscope Records, current hip-hop topics like Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse and his current status as a do-gooder. This track is almost a diary about his entire career. He just wanted to shed some light on the subject of his turbulent career, just so you know.
Overall, OKE combines refreshing instrumentals with classic Game: taking shots at anyone and everyone yet staying original and proactive in his lyrical content. This may be his most focused piece of work since his debut album, The Documentary. Game truly stepped up to the plate this time.
5 out of 5 stars
Read mixtape columnist Josh Villanueva’s take on the album here.