Album: The Game

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Chuck Taylor, aka The Game, is the Wayne Rooney of hip hop, a newcomer so excessively garlanded - in his case, to the tune of a million advance American sales of this debut album - that he'll surely struggle to fulfil expectations. Unless, that is, one's expectations can be sated by a rerun of overly familiar conventions from the West Coast gangsta-rap heyday. Taylor apparently only took up rhyming a few years ago, prompted by five gunshot wounds and a lengthy stay in hospital to make a sudden career-change from his previous, more violent profession. He was quite methodical about it, investing in a bunch of big-name rap albums and modelling his own efforts upon theirs - which is why it's a bit of a stretch to refer to The Game's "own" style, as, when he's not name-checking the likes of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 2Pac, Nas and NWA, he's offering fairly decent facsimiles of their approaches. The result is a bit like the rap equivalent of a tribute band, full of the requisite breast-beating, threats, insults, paranoia, accounts of drug retailing, and the kind of sinister local travelogues that must have the Compton tourist board tearing its hair out. Of course, it helps to have Dr Dre as your producer, and the likes of Eminem, 50 Cent, and Kanye West guesting but, ultimately, this is a dead-end exercise.