I remembered – out of nowhere – just the other day that I attended a concert by The Game. Do you remember him? He’s a rapper born Jayceon Terrell Taylor and he took on that modest moniker, The Game. He made a couple of albums back to back, The Documentary (2005) and Doctor’s Advocate (2006) and then there was 2008’s LAX – though there was talk that he was giving up the, er, game immediately after that album he battle-rapped on. He released a couple more – I didn’t hear them. Wikipedia tells me that he’s planning The Documentary 2 for next year; a decade after the original album. Sequel albums are almost always The Worst but that’s another topic for another day. Right now I just thought I’d share with you the time that I attended The Game.
It was quite possibly the saddest concert I’ve ever attended. The saddest turnout. The concert was at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua. I don’t think there could have been more than a couple hundred people in a venue that had been built to hold a couple of thousand.
It’s baffling to think how this failed really – do promoters not bother to advertise properly? It is just priced out of the market? Did they just get it hugely wrong because even though The Game isn’t about to be written up as one of the greatest rappers of all time he did play NZ at a time when he was (close to) riding high. And he was big in America. In a sense. I wonder how he got through the set? He musta been a bit embarrassed. I couldn’t feel sorry for him though. He deserved a lame crowd, a shit turnout. He was fucking terrible.
Okay, here’s the review of that night back in 2009. Five years ago. If I hadn’t checked Wikipedia I might have assumed The Game was dead. He sure died on stage that night in Porirua.
Jayceon Terrell Taylor is The Game, an American rapper credited with bringing back the West Coast “gangster rap” sound that Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg pioneered in the early 1990s. This is the PR-spin to justify a copycat rapper arriving on the back of 50 Cent, who arrived on the back of Eminem; all pushed into place (in front of the same audience) through an affiliation with Dr Dre.
The Game released The Documentary in 2005, Doctor’s Advocate the following year and most recently LAX (2008); rumoured to be his final album.
Certainly the appeal of The Game and his one-note toasting and boasting, lacking anything close to a melody and barked out monotonously, is on the wane. This concert was relocated from Wellington’s TSB Bank Arena to Porirua’s smaller Te Rauparaha Arena where there was still plenty of space on the other side of the stage. It’s a shame because the venue seems like it might work with a decent act – this being, to my knowledge, the first international name to appear. But this particular artist’s appeal and/or the marketing was all wrong in the end.
Tens of people packed in close to hear The Game, surrounded by his bodyguard-entourage of stage minders. He hacked out hackneyed rhymes over pre-recorded beats that apparently required two DJs to stand still while the record scratched itself.
The real tragedy of this show was not the poor attendance. It was watching a guy that is as close as can be to talentless teaching a crowd of teens to cock a pistol and fire fake shots in to the air, gun sounds supplied from the DJs while hands pointed to the ceiling. The Game extolled the virtues of “getting drunk as a motherfucker”; sprayed the front row with champagne; had nearly as many audience members on the stage as off, dragging teens up to pump and grind and booty-dance and show off their junior gang colours.
There is irony and humour in a lot of hip-hop music. Often there is innovation and talent too. None of that was on show here. Instead we got a big fish swimming a victory lap in a tiny bowl.
At the start of this year I said it was hard putting the Leonard Cohen concert in to words – and that it was the best concert I have ever seen. Now the scale is completed, because I have wasted these words dipping down to see what it is like at the other end.