To merge the west coast rap scene with a tucked away warehouse turned music venue may not be as an unassailable combination as strawberries and cream, but as it figures, I sat in the taxi back to Salford with a tantalising aftertaste in my mouth. The only problem, like the hundreds of people who crammed into the audience share, is that now I have a craving for it.
What a turnout it was. As I stood at the back of the room, overlooking the swaying swarm of fans, I knew that something monumental awaited backstage. The Game probably sensed this too, and kept us eagerly anticipating his arrival for around 45 minutes. This caused no unrest, as the sound system blared universally loved tunes such as Skepta’s ‘shut down’ and Kanye West’s ‘Homecoming’, which went down a treat.
As the event was transitioning from a gig into a DJ set, The Game finally emerged through a smokescreen and the crowd erupted. He wasted no time in paying his respects to Tupac and claimed that without the pioneer, he would not be standing before us. He stomped his authority on proceedings, instructing the crowd to wave their hands in the air and chant the Tupac chorus, we loyally obliged.
With the latest single being released in 2017, but no studio album released since 2016, The game started with ‘El Chapo’. A monster of a collaboration anthem with Skrillex, and you almost couldn’t hear The Game and his Mc’s over the crowd, everybody was hooked. He continued in the same spirit with other collaboration sensations such as ‘100’ and ‘Oh I’ with Drake and Young Thug respectively. What reinforced the prowess of the rapper was how he could carry the songs by himself, and how the artists he collaborated with did not seem to be missing. A bold statement when referring to the likes the Drake, but The Game is not a rapper to underestimate.
During a mid-set interlude, The Game and his backing MC, who resembled Tupac with his thin bandana, divided the crowd into two sides (they missed a trick by not calling them East side and West Side) and instructed them to recite the chorus of ‘Hate it or Love it’ with each side taking turns to dominate.
The Game swapped sides and wherever he resided, the crowd were wild, and spent as much time screaming his name as they did following his instructions. From the first song to the last, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever witnessed an artist having complete, unfettered control over their audience, and an audience so in awe with an artist.
The game finished with ‘My Life’ taken from the LAX album and ‘I grew up on Wu-Tang’ as a touching tribute to the days of hip-hop passed by. Performed equally as well by the spectators as it was by the rapper. A final monologue about how incredible the city of Manchester is and how much he looked forward to performing in the city of dreams, and then quicker than a song at no1, he vanished.
The transition from the tumultuous, bordering deafening air to just the shuffle of feet was a surreal moment, but I think everybody just wanted it to sink in. It’s not a regular occurrence that an artist of The Game’s notoriety graces the local scene every weekend.