The Game – Blood Moon: Year Of The Wolf (eOne Music)

NYC rapper is crowded out by star guests on sporadic return to form

Released Oct 15th, 2014 via eOne Music / By Sam Bennett
The Game – Blood Moon: Year Of The Wolf (eOne Music) The Game needs no introduction. Blood Moon: Year Of The Wolf is the Compton rapper's first album since his departure from Interscope, and it's released on Blood Money Entertainment, a label set up by The Game himself, in partnership with Atlanta rapper, Stat Quo. The tracklist doesn't really suggest an independent move however, with the artists featured including Lil Wayne, French Montana, Tyga and Young Jeezy, amongst a long long list of others.

As I started to listen to Blood Moon, I wondered whether the project would feel cluttered with all the guest appearances, or whether the independent move would reinvigorate the hunger found on much of The Game's early work.

The album gets under way with a truly aggressive start in 'Bigger Than Me', and this is a no holds barred attack on the mainstream industry over a slow paced, crisp instrumental courtesy of Jordan Mosley. The Game sounds back to his snarling best on this hard hitting opener, although he does fall guilty of some lazy writing, such as Frank Ocean go 'head/Fuck these fuck n*ggas.

The raw, boom bap instrumental of 'F.U.N.' is another absolute banger, but the fact The Game goes back to his old habits is slightly disappointing, spitting G Unit had a reunion before launching into the chorus 'Man, fuck you n*iggas/I'll rob you n*ggas/I'll kill you n*ggas coz I don't feel you n*ggas'. This is stranger still as he started 'Bigger Than Me' with the lyrics These n*ggas ain't Em, you ain't 50 to me.

The album has a slightly confused feel about it, and not always in an endearing way; there are too many sections of the project that sound over-commercial. Tracks like 'The Purge' show that Game can still deliver tracks that sound authentic and close to his heart, although in this case it does come across a little preachy for my taste.

The guest appearances come thick and fast on this album, and they don't always impress. T.I. delivers a heavy verse on 'Really', but the collaboration with King Marie & Ty Dolla $ign on 'On One' is ill advised; this track just doesn't sound like The Game. It feels forced and too commercial, as does 'Take That' with Tyga and Pharaoh Prophet, which just doesn't fit the vibe of the majority of the album's tracks.

Blood Money Entertainment signee Dubb is featured quite heavily here, with a solo track in 'Trouble On My Mind', which is a pretty impressive showing of the West Coast spitters skills, who has been steadily grinding for a good few years now. He also delivers a tight verse on 'Cellphone', which is an interesting concept over a brass led instrumental from Florida production team The MeKanics.

Elsewhere 'Hit Em Hard' is a convincing and well delivered street anthem, featuring man of the moment Bobby Shmurda, as well as Freddie Gibbs alongside the second artist from the label's roster to be featured on 'Blood Moon', Skeme. 'Black On Black' is another impressive cut, with The Game being joined by Jeezy and Kevin Gates. It's these more intense, hood records that The Game has always been a specialist at, and amongst a fair amount of underwhelming tracks on this album, these last two tracks are more reputable and effective collaborations.

The Game sounds as if he's back to his aggressive best at certain points on 'Blood Moon', but there are so many collaborations on the album that, simply put, we just don't hear enough of him for the project to be truly effective. A couple of ill-chosen cuts disrupt the feel of the album, such as 'Take That' or 'On One'; had the Compton MC decided to stick with the feel of tracks like 'F.U.N.' and 'Cellphone' for the whole album, and not diluted it with guest verses, his first independent effort might have been more of a cohesive one.

There are moments of the album that are reminiscent of the relentless gangsta rap The Game delivered so solidly on his first two albums, but it does fall victim to the huge amount of collaborations. Even so, this is worth checking out for any rap fan, there'll be something on here for you.