Welcome to 1992 Compton, California where the nights are warm, the days feel endless, and education is taught on the streets. This is the setting for The Game’s most recent album (and probably one of my favorites) 1992. Inspired by his life growing up in Compton, The Game takes you on a 13 track journey where you experience what it’s like to be a 12-year-old African-American boy in his neighborhood.
1992 starts off strong with “Savage Lifestyle” where he brings the harsh realities of being an African American in Los Angeles during the Los Angeles Riots to the forefront. “Police cars, driving by niggas in slow mo/ If you white don’t stop at the light, cause that’s a no-no”. The reality is The Game is going back to an older form of hip hop. A place hip hop purists thrive and The Game frequently revisits on other albums. Where lyricists tell stories and attempt to give the listener a bird’s eye view of what they’re experiencing. In this case the Los Angeles Riots, racial tension, and gang violence.
The Game’s attempt for people to understand his childhood hits hardest with “Young N*gga’s” the most powerful track on the album. Produced by The Chemists Create, the smooth beat pulls the listener in and forces them to really focus on the message of each line. “Same book, different page/ Another year, different age/ Cross colors, colors cross, bows turning into fades/ He started cripping, I started blooding/ Now we walking through the halls of school like we don’t even know each other”. To be honest this is probably one of the strongest tracks The Game has ever released. Potentially one of the strongest tracks of the year. The story focuses on how a close friend he lived with joined his opposing gang and I don’t want to spoil it for you but there isn’t a happy ending. Listening to “Young N*gga’s” is similar to watching a movie you’re pulled in by what he’s saying and the characters to the point where you develop an emotional attachment to the heavy content and imagery that he’s able to display so well.
The heavy content of the album and lack of features could potentially push a listener away but 1992 does an excellent job of avoiding that. The sampling of classic records with tracks like “However Do You Want It” allows for the listener to still have fun listening to such heavy lyrics. The Game isn’t new to sample overload and on 1992 he continues doing what he likes to do and does best.
However, even though his overuse of samples is expected from him and it’s executed well it’s a bit overdone here. On occasions it even comes off as more of a mixtape than an album. “True Colors/It’s On” is definitely an example of a well done track and sample that just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the album. It’s beautifully produced and extremely descriptive when discussing his upbringing. It just feels out of place.
Going back to what I said earlier this album is completely void of features minus the bonus track featuring Jeremih entitled “All Eyez”. This is a direct nod to the critics that claim The Game is just a carbon copy of whoever he hops on a track with. He’s basically saying “hey guess what? I’m a standalone MC not a style biter” which is completely true and showcased so well here. The bold move to eliminate features and focus on content is what makes this project standout the most. 1992 was written for the skeptics and the critics (of course the fans too). With this album one of L. A’s most surprisingly underrated rappers has easily solidified his place among the great L.A rappers.
The content, the imagery, the storytelling, and sample selection brings you back to what some consider to be a golden era for hip hop. It also brings focus to the problems that are still plaguing the African American community. Despite the album’s focus on The Game’s experiences throughout his childhood (primarily the year 1992) each experience still holds true for youth today. It might not be the L.A riots but there have been a number of riots throughout the country for the same reasons the riots occurred in Los Angeles. There are still children finding their only escape from reality to be joining a gang. 1992 touches on those issues and comes off as a reminder that those issues are still here and they still need to be addressed.
The Game created a timeless piece and whether you’re a fan of his or not you have to respect every aspect of this project. It’s not very often we come across an album that reminds you why you love hip hop. I can confidently say The Game reminded me with 1992. Take a listen and tell me what you think.