The Game

by: Chico DeBarge

The Game acts as a perfect follow-up to his 1997 album, Long Time, No See. Like Long Time, No See, many of the tracks on The Game feel deeply autobiographical. On the title track, Debarge tells the story of an ex-con struggling to stay on the straight and narrow, a story that resonates with listeners who know that Debarge himself spent several years in jail for trafficking cocaine. Amid the personal drama, Debarge also provides plenty of mid-tempo tracks aimed straight at the libido. Tracks like the self-explanatory "Sexual" are filled with the kind of growls and yelps of joy that you'd hear on a Marvin Gaye record. While Debarge falls well short of a master like Gaye, he is well on his way to becoming a distinct artist, a welcome relief from much of late-'90s R&B which seems to come off an assembly line. ~ Jon Azpiri

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