Saturday, January 6, 2007

TBG Reviews: MTV 2's $2 Bill Concert Series, Featuring The Game

For those of you who might not know, the "$2 Bill" is a 30-minute commercial disguised as a concert. And, a quick pan of tonight's audience surely enrages the entirety of the ultra-conservative red states as it appears all of East L.A. is in attendance.

And, look…they've brought their gang signs!

There are some 18s up front. Who'd they kill to get such good seats?

Uh oh! Better not sit 'em too close to the homies from Mara Salvatrucha!

0:01 - Game is out and gingerly takes the stage in a black Dickies ensemble. He fits right in with the crowd, as any minute I half-expect Michelle Pfeiffer to teach everyone a lesson in life and a perpetually perspiring L.V. to sing the hook to the theme song.

Game urges the audience to "make some noise", which remains forever entrenched in the encyclopedia of on-stage music concert clich├ęs. You'll find it in the "M" volume right after "make money, money, money…make money, money!" (You'll have to look that one up on your own, non-rap fans.)

0:02 - And, we're right into "Westside Story", from his debut Documentary album:

"Crips, Bloods, Eses, Asians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, White Boys, Jamaicans, Latin Kings, Disciples, Vice Lords, Haitians…all these muthafuckas been patiently waitin…!"

Those "strikethroughs" are what we the viewers hear as "bleeps". Anyone remember when these guys used to make "radio" versions of their hits? Snoop Dogg's "smokin' Indo" line from "Gin n' Juice" became "smokin', smokin'". Now, they just let the seven-second delay do their dirty work. Lazy azz nickas.

And, listen to this…they actually kept 50 Cent's original hook for the song! 50 is Game's archenemy for those of you who've already forgotten their "feud" that's lasted almost two years now. Game seems to be having trouble keeping up with the beat here. We're barely one song into this thing and Game is already sweating like a fourth period Patrick Ewing.

Hip Hop-crysy: Game raps "I don't do button up shirts…", but he's got one on here.

References to "C-Walking" and "The Devil" are slipped past the censor, even though they're pretty common gang references these days. Hell, C-Walking briefly gained acclaim as a dance craze in clubs out in Cali. But, then the real Crips took exception and you know how protective of their intellectual property they are.

In fact, they spell "exception" with an "AK", which isn't just a tired gun reference; it's really how they spell it.

0:05 - Next up is "California Vacation" off of Game's new album. And, in the surprise of the night, west coast rapper Xzibit was able to clear his busy calendar for a cameo here! Didn't X drop an album just three months ago? Can we all assume that his self-serving concert will be shuttled over to MTV-Ocho as part of their I Ain't Got No Change for a Dollar series? And, did someone at least pimp his bus pass?

0:08 - X finishes his verse in time for Game to jump into the second single from Doctor's Advocate, "Let's Ride".

As is often the case with these shows, the fans go crazy for the material that they've heard a million times and memorized ("Do 'Freebird'!") and don't know how to react to the relatively new stuff. In the case of this concert, everyone in the audience nods their heads politely and repositions their respective pistols around their torsos.

Perhaps sensing the fans' fatigue after watching someone else do something for 15 minutes, a handful of scantily-clad dancers almost instantly appear onstage to liven things up.

Dancers…at a gangsta rap concert. Somewhere, Tupac Shakur is rolling over in his grave. Or maybe his mom and Suge Knight just keep forgetting to place 'Pac 'face up' after they've exhumed his music for the umpteenth time.


(And save your hate mail, I know that St. Tupac was cremated, but that joke wouldn't have made sense. It's called "creative license", kids.)

0:13 - The pacing was apparently intentional as "Hate It or Love It" is up next. It's a hot little cut (and easily one of the two biggest hits) off his first album and it worked because 50 Cent carried an equal amount of the lyrical load. Not only is 50 not here, but the censors even bleep out his name when Game politely states that he'll rap 50's part.

It's a good thing that this isn't an hour-long affair, because Game is breathing heavier than an emphysemic asthmatic. He gives himself a breather by holding out the mic towards the crowd when 50's verses come on, so that they can perform what they paid to see. It's the same for his performance of "How We Do", as the forced audience participation and machine-gun lyrical censoring ruins this one for those of us at home. I hope he heard my boos.

0:21 - What the…? A commercial? Whoever heard of intermission in a 30-minute musical performance? Well, on the plus side, one of the spots was for Game's Hurricane shoe line. In LA, you can buy two pairs for $89 in most malls. Do Bloods and Crips shop at Payless?

0:25 - We're back for the big finish, as Game calls out his gang affiliation by name, without any MTV editing. I guess we now know which set Viacom claims. Remember, guys, the red rag goes on the right side. Anyways, it's time for "It's Okay (One Blood)", which is, admittedly, a great single.

The audience wakes up, while Junior Reid (who lends the sample and is on the hook) is in traditional Jamaican rags attire and slinging a surplus supply of those faux leather African medallions, which were the swap meet treat back in 1989, into the crowd.

0:29 - Inexplicably, the show finishes with the closing credits rolling over Nas, who's all but anonymous on the West Coast, anyway. He was there for "Hate the Game" off of Game's new album, but the track runs almost 10 minutes and is cut (by about 10 minutes) for time purposes.

Taking my obvious bias into account, this was a fun little show for fans of The Game, so take the two seconds to hunt it down on YouTube. Oh, and Xzibit needs a ride home, so if anyone's going that way…