The Game “DRILLMATIC Heart vs. Mind” Album Review

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 Image via HNHH/The Game

The Game bounces back from retirement with a heavy hitter.

Retirement is seldom permanent in Hip-Hop, and The Game is the latest example of a rapper who just couldn’t fully step away from music. Two years and eight-and-a-half months after his tenth and “final” studio album Born 2 Rap, The Game has triumphantly bounced back from a brief retirement to unleash his eleventh studio album, DRILLMATIC Heart v. Mind. From Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come to Logic’s Bobby Tarantino III mixtape, post-retirement comeback albums tend to elicit mixed results. But, if DRILLMATIC makes anything clear, it proves that The Game had no business retiring in the first place.

The sprawling 29-track album is a quintessential project from the West Coast veteran and former G-Unit member. In true Jayceon fashion, DRILLMATIC is loaded with a list of guest features that would rival a DJ Khaled record, including Ice-T, Fivio Foreign, BOA OG, YG, Osbe Chill, The Mass, Ty Dolla $ign, Roddy Rich, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, G Herbo, Dreezy, Chiller, Twista, Candice Pillay, French Montana, Tory Lanez, Meek Mill, Moneybagg Yo, Blxst, A$AP Rocky, Cam’ron, Big Sean, Blueface, Chris Brown, Chlöe, Cassie, a spoken cameo from Drake, and multiple appearances from Jeremih and Kanye West. Furthermore, Game’s pen game shows that hasn’t lost his grip on the culture, as he continues to incorporate his trademark name-dropping technique into practically every song on the record. That recurring motif combined with timely lyrics about recent events — from Brittney Griner’s nine-year prison sentence in Russia and Beyoncé’s “HEATED” lyric controversy to the YSL RICO indictment and the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas — make for an album that feels like a time capsule of 2022 so far. Nearly two full decades after the release of his major-label debut, The Game is still cleverly documenting Hip-Hop, popular culture, and the state of the world.

Guided by co-executive producers Hit-Boy and Kanye West, The Game’s latest release leaves little to be desired. In addition to the previously heard, Ye-assisted banger “Eazy,” DRILLMATIC is loaded with hard-hitting tracks that pay homage to Hip-Hop legends, including the Ice-T-sampling album opener “One Time,” the Jay-Z-sampling “Change The Game,” in which Ty Dolla $ign recreates the late Static Major’s hook, and the Lil Wayne and G Herbo-assisted “Chrome Slugs & Harmony” that features a sped-up chop of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone.” While many DRILLMATIC tracks employ a similar approach of taking sonic inspiration from the past, “Talk To Me Nice” and “Money Cash Clothes” really make the most out of their iconic samples. The former — which is skillfully produced by DONTMINDIFIDUKE and Skywalker OG — finds Meek Mill, Blxst, and MoneyBagg Yo floating over a prominent sample of Tela’s 1996 hit “Sho’Nuff.” The latter boasts booming Swizz Beats and Mike Zombie production for an exhilarating, A$AP Rocky-assisted ode to the late DMX. Beyond the welcomed doses of nostalgia, The Game does an impressive job of balancing DRILLMATIC out with plenty of solo tracks — a nice assortment of slow, introspective cuts, and a respectable amount of smooth, R&B- and Afrobeat-adjacent tunes. Even the majority of the featured artists came correct and provided memorable contributions. Dreezy, 2 Chainz, BOA QG, Twista, MoneyBagg Yo, and Rick Ross, specifically, shine in their performances. However, one could argue that DRILLMATIC — despite having all the ingredients for a truly amazing album — gives listeners far too much material to work with.

The Game’s newest offeringwas originally slated to feature 31 tracks, but nearly a week after its release, two of its most highly anticipated tracks — including the YoungBoy Never Broke Again-assisted “O.P.P.” and the Nipsey Hussle-featuring “World Tours” — are not available on streaming services. The latter’s absence reportedly stemmed from a lack of communication between The Game’s team and Nipsey’s estate. The reason for the removal of the NBA YoungBoy collaboration was a result of budgeting issues, according to Wack 100. Nevertheless, that leaves DRILLMATIC with a hefty total of 29 tracks, and a ridiculous runtime of nearly two full hours. The Game’s latest endeavor is an absolute behemoth, even by contemporary music industry standards. Its trimmed-down version is still 30 minutes longer than some of the longest Hip-Hop albums released this year, like Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and YoungBoy’s The Last Slimeto. While its sheer length is undoubtedly its greatest and insurmountable flaw, DRILLMATIC isn’t overflowing with filler or flat-out horrible songs. There are simply far too many lackluster songs sprinkled throughout the album’s protracted tracklist to justify its length.

With everything considered, DRILLMATIC Heart vs. Mind is an incredible comeback album from the West Coast’s most infamous documentarian, even if it is a tad overzealous. Although its fat most definitely works against it, The Game’s eleventh studio album stands tall amongst the rest of the Hip-Hop albums released in 2022. Quality bars, attention-grabbing production, and plenty of entertaining moments give DRILLMATIC the upper hand against many of its competitors. In a year in which the Hip-Hop community’s biggest stars have been way more experimental than usual, The Game provided an aural safe haven of sorts for rap fans.

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