May 25, 2009

For Promotional Use Only: The Game - You Know What It Is Vol. 1 (2002)

Allegedly, this is the mixtape that secured Jayceon Taylor two record deals: the first, with the help from West Coast stalwart JT The Bigga Figga (on his Get Low Recordz), and the second, much more high profile one, thanks to Andre Young and his Aftermath Entertainment, the former home of such promising acts such as Eve, King Tee (rechristened King T), Bishop Lamont (unconfirmed), and a young whippersnapper named Rakim Allah, who some have dubbed "the best emcee that ever did it" even though his Aftermath debut remains unreleased. So the man was in very good company. (This part of the story makes no sense when you realize that one of the interludes features The Game referencing a beef that his labelmates have, inferring that he was already signed to Aftermath at the time of this recording: I'm not writing the man's biography or anything, so I'm researching the best I can.)

The Game's backstory is that he taught himself to rap by studying some of the classics after being shot the fuck up in a drug deal turned sour. The man never aspired to become a rap artist: it's just something he decided to do one morning, in between his morning shit and selecting which kind of fruity cereal would mix well with the lactose-free milk he had purchased just the night before, while he was at the grocery store picking up some chicken drumsticks, malt liquor, an economy-size bottle of Aleve, some Newman's Own microwave popcorn, one egg, some store-brand Doritos knockoff, and a DVD copy of Air Bud, which, admittedly, only cost about three bucks at the register.

You Know What It Is Vol. 1 is presented by DJ Ray, who, to be honest, I'd never heard of before, and have never heard from since, due to the fact that The Game's career took the fuck off after this mixtape (and his debut on Get Low Recordz, Untold Story) dropped in 2002, and he aligned himself with his friends in the Black Wall Street crew, a merry band of weed carriers he created for himself, and deejay-slash-producer Nu Jerzey Devil, who would go on to assist with the rest of The Game's many mixtapes. You Know What It Is Vol. 1 (which is a risky title: what if nobody gave a damn about the guy after listening to it?) launched a series for Jayceon, which increasingly became about asserting his dominance over Curtis Jackson and the G-Unit, but we'll get to that when we get to that.

(Side note: my tracklisting, which I've taken straight from iTunes after uploading the disc onto my computer, appears to be different than what some websites are posting, but it's simply the titles themselves that are switched: the songs all appear in the same order.)

It takes too long for Game to start actually rapping, but his passion is contagious enough. Of course, having one of Dr. Dre's best compositions playing underneath you can help matters tremendously.

I found myself more impressed with Fabo than with The Game, especially after Fabo references Dick Gregory in his second verse. (For the record, I actually don't hate Fabolous behind the mic. I just wish he would pick harder beats to spit to, but he aims to get all of his songs on the radio, so concessions must be made.) The beats that were jacked just sound lackluster when removed from their original context, though.

I'm not familiar with the original, Game-less version of this track (if one actually exists: the creators of this tape do go out of their way to announce that this is a "remix", though), but while this isn't the type of beat I would expect to hear E-40 on, the song itself isn't bad. It's not rocket science, but it's decent enough.

I hated hated hated Busta Rhymes when he released his garbage “Make It Clap” single, so you can imagine how I feel about Game jacking this particular beat.

The first of many hip hop marathons run by The Game, this one over a slightly altered instrumental from Jay-Z's “(Always Be My) Sunshine”. Truthfully, it's more impressive that Jayceon was able to string together one hundred bars without repeating entire sentences, than it is that the song exists in the first place.

Blah blah blah stupid skit blah.

7. .40 CAL
I actually really like this freestyle over Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, and Magic's “Down 4 My N----z” beat: to me, this sounds better that the original song, thanks especially to the references to The Last Dragon at the end. There's a version of this freestyle that doesn't use bullshit sound effects over crucial lyrics, though (and yes, I realize I just used the term “crucial lyrics” while referring to a Game song): you should try to find that one on the Interweb, but it goes by a few different titles, so good luck.

8. .44 MAG
The beat for Baby's/Birdman's “What Happened To That Boy” (produced by The Neptunes) has been described as “sinister” and “creepy”, and I can accept those descriptions. Game sounds decent over this, so of course he would never actually utilize an original Neptunes beat of his own for his actual albums. (My theory is that Pharrell and Chad are priced out of his league, even though those two haven't have a huge hit in, what, five years?)

Actual real-life journalists should be offended by the bullshit “reporter” that is conducting the bullshit “interview”.

Game's wholesale theft of the Notorious B.I.G.'s “Who Shot Ya?” takes too long to get started, mostly because the gimmick involved (Game's allegedly rapping on a pay phone while locked up) needs to be introduced, lest folks get confused by the fact that Game was just sitting down for an “interview” one track prior. Because of this, his vocals are in a lower register than usual, making it really easy to ignore the lyrics and just listen to the classic beat.

As a rule, I'm not a fan of Dip Set, or the Diplomats, or whatever the fuck you want to call them today. I used to think that Killa Cam was alright (I ran out to buy his Confessions of Fire the day it dropped, I'll admit), but he isn't very good on here. Juelz Santana and Jim Jones (who doesn't actually appear on the track but warrants a mention, since he is Dip Set and all) don't impress me at all, though, and Jimmy's tendency to constantly ad-lib behind his lyrics always makes him sound like he's his own hypeman, which just makes him come off as insecure. Anyway, the bastardizing of Scarface's first lines from the Geto Boys classic “My Mind's Playin' Tricks On Me” should earn all of the rappers involved a fucking beatdown in front of their respective children.

Wow, Game was overconfident and cocky right from the start. It is interesting that he basically states on here that he doesn't care about the artists firing shots at his labelmates: shouldn't that have been Curtis Jackson's first clue that the G-Unit partnership might not work?

If I were Raekwon, and I found out that my beat for the classic “Ice Cream” was reappropriated by some no-name (at the time) rapper called The Game, who proceeded to do a really shitty job with it, I would have some words with him, with the aid of a baseball bat. But I'm not Raekwon, so it makes complete sense that Rae would eventually make a guest appearance on Game's L.A.X. I guess cooler heads prevailed. That, or the Chef has never actually heard this track.

Can you imagine how much shittier Curtis Jackson's Get Rich or Die Tryin' would have sounded if his collaboration with Lil' Kim, “Magic Stick”, actually made the album as promised, instead of being used for Kim's album? God, that song was embarrassing. As is this shit.

Kelis appears on the hook, but for some reason, didn't warrant a credit on the mixtape. Loon's original song, if I recall, didn't do that well on the radio anyway (maybe I'm just not in the right part of the country), so I found it strange that Game was willing attach himself to such a suck-ass song.

This is just the deejay sending shout-outs to all of his friends. Nothing to see here.

SHOULD YOU TRACK IT DOWN? I wouldn't,but it depends on your personal taste. You Know What It Is Vol. 1 was released prior to Game's Aftermath debut The Documentary, so he comes off as a rapper that had something to prove, as opposed to all of his subsequent mixtapes, which were mostly centered around beefs he accumulated after he became successful. His name-dropping gene is still present even on this early project, but otherwise, Game comes off as a halfway decent gangsta rapper who, with some tweaking, could be really good, but I wasn't impressed with his subject matter (not unlike Seinfeld, Game raps about absolutely nothing on here) and most of the beats either made me feel apathetic or angry (there was no reason for Game to jack Biggie or Raekwon except to prove that he was aware of the existence of those superior tracks). I don't recommend this to anybody besides Game obsessives.


Read up on Jayceon Taylor by clicking here.


  1. AnonymousMay 25, 2009

    I am surprised u would review this cause it's not exactly Game's best mixtape is it...

    I'd agree it's not that great but 100 Bars is pretty good and although I totally and utterly disagree with both of ur reviews of Game's albums (Like Father Like Son is still his best track) it's nice to c u review music which is actually good... cough *Doggfather* cough *Massacre* cough.

    Any chance u can review 2001? Because if u say "burn" on that one then I will probably never read this again...

    Oh and Immortal Technique was promised!

  2. Maybe The Game drank a little of the Kool-Aid that Jim Jiones was selling...

  3. Your Neptunes line is funny for .44 Mag, seeing as Game just tattooed the Neptunes logo on him pledging allegiance to Pharrel.