During the lead-up to Jayceon "The Game" Taylor's sophomore album, 2006's The Doctor's Advocate, hip hop heads (and Jayceon himself, most likely) were surprised to hear that the man was dropped from both 50 Cent's G-Unit (no big loss) and from Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, having ultimately been shifted to Geffen Records (while still underneath the Interscope umbrella) to ride out the remainder of his contract. The label change had to have been distressing to Game, since a lot of his rap identity up until that point relied on his relationship with Andre Young: shit, the very title of the album, The Doctor's Advocate, was inspired by the former N.W.A. member. So when the project finally dropped, most heads weren't shocked to hear numerous references to Dr. Dre, but that doesn't make the situation any less sad, nor does the fact that the majority of the album sounds like reference tracks for Dre vocals that never materialized.
"It's Okay (One Blood)" was the first single from The Doctor's Advocate, and it provided a soapbox for Game to stand on as he proclaimed to the masses that he and Dr. Dre were still the best of friends, and how he's the West Coast's savior, and whatever other shit sounded good to him at the time. Reggae legend Junior Reid was called upon (read: heavily sampled) to provide a hook of sorts, mostly made up of him repeating the parenthetical half of the song title, which, by the way, was called "One Blood" as a shout-out to the set Game still claims to this day. The instrumental, provided by Reefa after the original Dre prescription was allegedly aborted, is an gradually-annoying, drum-heavy concoction that drives Jayceon's boasts 'n bullshit 'n name drops into the horizon: the song itself is pleasant enough, but the single listen is more than most people absolutely need to commit to it. I suppose it was a minor hit: I mean, Game still has a career, obviously. But after his debut featured singles produced by the likes of Dre, Timbaland, and Kanye West, "It's Okay (One Blood)", Game's attempt to remove himself from his situation by securing production from outside of Dre's camp while doing nothing but talking about Dr. Dre during the verses themselves, could only draw general indifference from heads like myself.
Which made Game's next move intriguing, if not actually interesting.
"It's Okay (One Blood)" somehow inspired an extra-fucking-long official remix affair that attempted to unite coasts and gangs in the name of "this should have been called a freestyle, but Game wanted to affix a formal label". The remix features twenty-four rappers: (deep breath, and...) Jim Jones, Snoop Dogg, Nas, T.I., Fat Joe, Lil' Wayne, N.O.R.E., Jadakiss, Styles P., Fabolous, Juelz Santana, Rick Ross, Twista, both Kurupt and Daz from Tha Dogg Pound, WC, E-40, Bun B, Chamillionaire, Slim Thug, Young Dro, both (No) Malice and Pusha T of the Clipse, and Ja Rule, all spitting over the same Reefa instrumental alongside Game himself (and Junior Reid, technically, I guess). As you can imagine, that instrumental, which was grating when it was just Game over it, grows incredibly tedious over the course of the nearly twelve minutes (!) it takes for this shit to finish, although at least the voices behind the microphone switch up often enough to keep listeners from getting fucking exhausted right away. (Game also apparently released three regional mixes to mixtapes, one for each coast represented on this mix, a couple of which toss in additional artists along with those featured on the subject of today's post: as I only learned about those fuckers today, I won't be acknowledging them in this write-up, but feel free to discuss them if you're familiar.)
Conspicuous in their respective absences are any members of G-Unit (whose ringleader, 50 Cent, actually had problems, at one time or another, with about half of the goddamn guest list) and anyone affiliated with Shady/Aftermath Records, although there wouldn't have been much room for them anyway. Everyone involved kicks a short quickie, only a handful of which actually mention Game: for the most part, these various artists stay on their own messages, talking the kind of shit designed to have the most impact with the short amount of screen time afforded each participant. Jim Jones (ugh) kicks things off, while Ja Rule, the scourge of hip hop who, nevertheless, scored several radio hits in the early part of the millennium, closes things out with what I think is the longest verse I've ever heard from the motherfucker. He was almost certainly included just to piss off Curtis (and Eminem, technically, since Marshall also had his own problems with the guy).
Given the nature of this kind of remix, one where all of the verses were most certainly recorded in separate studios and e-mailed to Game for inclusion, there is no standout verse: a hungry rapper's need to outshine everyone else on the track simply doesn't exist if they don't share any space, right? It's worth noting that nobody actually sounds terrible, but the remix itself is overkill: sitting through the entire thing is a chore, and if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself mentally writing a to-do list while the song plays, completely ignoring the performances after, say, Nas raps, which, honestly, I can't say I did for Game's original track.
The official remix to "It's Okay (One Blood)" is too much of a, well, not a good thing, but, um, an okay thing, maybe? It's cool to hear so many all-stars (and Young Dro) on the same track together, but the remix is merely a publicity stunt, released to promote The Doctor's Advocate (a week after the album dropped, if I recall correctly) and to show the universe just how many friends Game had managed to make in the industry in a relatively short period of time. As a curiosity piece, sure, it's nice that it exists. As a piece of music, though, the remix simply doesn't work: there's no cohesion or running themes, just a bunch of guys rapping over the same fucking annoying beat, and that shit gets old real fast, folks.
GO WITH THE O.G. OR THE REMIX? The original, by far. If you have to hear either, of course.
The Game - The Doctor's Advocate (review)