It turns out Game doesn’t need strife in his life to create an excellent album, but for the sake of a thrilling cut, he’ll still seek it out. His fourth official full-length finds the West Coast veteran taking potshots at young folks like Lil B, and he does so alongside Tyler, the Creator, the equally love-him-or-hate-him head of the Odd Future crew. His threat to send Lil B up in flames seems much more pleasingly metaphorical than any of his previous threats toward the G-Unit crew, and when you add Lil Wayne to the cut, you’ve got the brilliant and oddball “Martians vs Goblins.” On the varied yet sharp R.E.D. Album -- and that means "re-dedicated” -- the track follows a true West Coast anthem, “Drug Test,” featuring Snoop Dogg and the reason Game ever went in a studio, Dr. Dre. Back up one more cut and you’ve got the dramatic success “The City,” which is a Game-paced catharsis and history lesson, slowly recounting the rapper’s estrangement from his mentor Dre and their renewed relationship. Here, that means one guest appearance from Dre, some narration during the interludes, and Dre’s Aftermath imprint on the label. It’s not much, but for Game, it’s enough, enough to make him sound content and comfortable with all his beefs and boasts coming from home base rather than on the run. Wayne returns to help Game smash haters on the “Zombie Nation”-sampling monster “Red Nation,” while elsewhere R.E.D. plays hard for the radio and invites Rick Ross and Beanie Sigel to help show off the “Heavy Artillery.” “Speakers on Blast” is the wonderfully off-kilter kind of trunk rumbler you’d expect when Big Boi and E-40 are on the cut, “Good Girls Go Bad” with Drake slows things down without going soft, and with Chris Brown delivering the chorus, “Pot of Gold” is B.o.B.’s “Airplanes” with more wisdom, but these spectrum-broadening highlights aren’t the real meat of this album. For that, there’s the familiar, tortured soul cut “Ricky,” the near-perfect “Mama Knows,” and the groundbreaking “California Dream,” a “Dr. Carter”-styled number that gives a thug's-eye view of childbirth, going from “And I just got a text from your mama/Saying her water burst, I guess it’s time for my karma” to an actual recording of the event. Dre’s short, spoken bits end up the only speed bumps during all these twists and turns, and when you’re complaining about interludes instead of the overall attitude of a Game album, you’ve got an obsession-free, almost relatable success that sacrifices none of the man’s fire or skill.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries