Who's Got Bars

The Game vs. Ab-Soul: “Dollar and a Dream” – Who’s Got Bars?

The Game vs. Ab-Soul: "Dollar and a Dream" - Who's Got Bars?

Ab- Soul, the reigning champ from the “Vice City” round of Who’s Got Bars?, is one of the many featured guest spots on The Game’s latest nineteen track marathon run of excellence, The Documentary 2. The Los Angeles representative lends his brand of socially aware lyrics to the Compton native’s featured track on the aforementioned project. This is the sixth tune found in the placement of the LP. It goes by the moniker “Dollar and a Dream”.

Though Jayceon Terrell Taylor, the thirty-five year old emcee we all know as The Game, is given a duo of verses in this reflective anthem today’s verbal combat will focus on the tune’s second collection of lines, presented by Ab-Soul, and the final rhyme in this hard-hitting ode which is delivered by The Game.

This is being done in an act of giving equal space to each respective emcee. The Game’s initial collection of lines in the piece is essentially setting the tone of the song. Therefore it will not be utilized. Also, Game’s initial stanza is only about half the length of Ab-Soul’s turn as well as Game’s climactic lyrical section. Therefore, this rivalry will be deemed equal.

Now the competition to see Who’s Got Bars proceeds once more!

Ab-Soul is on deck to begin. His verse is as follows:

 

“I was fathered by the bastards
Pardon my mannerisms
The Curtis magnet that managed without the metal with him
How the hell I did it? I let God ad lib it
I put that on Leetwood, I ain’t lying one sentence
B*tch, I started with a dollar and a dream
We went from helping old ladies with their groceries at Alpha Beta
For a couple quarters to a baby hustling something major
We had to grow up sooner or later, but
I’m so Del Amo, my mama still stay off Anna Lee
Carson across my belly, I prove you lost already
Roccett my big brother, Bishop let the door crack
Game took me on my first tour, now look where we at
In the studio getting paid to reflect on that
Documenting true facts
Not to mention this the Documentary 2 too
You do the addition in ballerina shoes
Enough with the clever raps, it’s more important than that
I put my city on the map, ****a
Yeah, I really put my city on the map
I mean, when the last time you heard Carson on the track, ****a?
Let alone when they calling out stomping grounds on the West
I’ll wait
Yeah, that’s what I thought, I’m the best, ****a
This the new West, ****a, respect that
It’s Top Dawg, all I’m missing is the red hat
But don’t question what pocket I had left, my handkerchief
I’m guilty by affiliation, in many ways gangsta
But let me explain something, a paradox if you may
I threw all my fresh Supreme Chuck Taylors today
And then I got a call from Chuck Taylor, I’m saying
The game ain’t changed, we still changing the game
Soul!”

Ab-Soul immediately cuts into his verse with intrigue and introspection in his first line. His internal rhyme scheme throughout is astonishing. What is even more intriguing is how personal it all feels.

Quips like, “Went from helping old ladies with their groceries at Alpha Beta/ For a couple quarters/ To a baby hustling something major”, give us an incredible amount of autobiographical information in only a few lines. We are with him and leafing through the catalogue of his experiences throughout.

In the second half, Ab-Soul’s poetry turns more to a battle rhyme. This is always intriguing, his flow and inflection is fiery throughout, but the actual bars range from brilliant (“Pardon my mannerisms/ The Curtis magnet that managed without the metal with him” or “I’m guilty by affiliation, in many ways gangsta”) to more commonplace (“I’m the best” or “I really put my city on the map”).

Even when the linguistic blows are more low-brow Ab-Soul’s bit is always intriguing, straight from the heart and you can tell he means every word he says.

Next up is The Game’s second verse (third overall):

“My first album was a set up
I was the little ****a Pac was talking to
When he said, “Keep your head up”,
Cause he knew what I would be facing after his demise
Jayceon had to pitch them pies, better life than flipping fries
I’m the one the Crips despise
Move the Yay or kiss the sky, for having dreams that 50 died
Eulogy by Mary Blige
Hopped up in that enterprise, had to stop a genocide
Went from underdog to watching Top Dawg and Kendrick rise
Now tell me can I testify, pull over trying to rest for 5
On a block, no tint on the Wraith
Left these kids mesmerized
They ask me how I did it, how I got it
Say I’m king
You looking brolic
I put them weights down
Start practicing lyrical exercise
Tell me who the next to die, probably who the next in line
They got me babbling ghost cause I’m the illest one alive
That’s word to Pac, Pun, Biggie, why I stand as my city
It’s wise to run a train, you couldn’t f*ck with me
Ever since I saved my coast, it’s been born again
If I ain’t sh*t then who the king of California then?
Who could out-rap me?
Now think about if the same ****a you bout
To say can run up and out-strap me, yeah
Out-trap me, yeah, out-gat me
I mean think about it, exactly
Speaking matter-of-factly
I’m down playing that actually
Call me Game!
I ain’t one
Still I get paid like an athlete
Do the math after the math, Doc two in the bag
Lived up to expectations, Dre took me first in the draft
Now who the f*ck want what
Nobody survives so look alive when them Impalas in the cut.”

The Game’s turn suffers from some of the name dropping he has often been criticized for utilizing so often. With mentions of “Pac, Pun, Biggie” and the standard comment, “Who could out rap me?”, Taylor’s part goes for both the jugular and the cerebrum.

It is like Ab-Soul’s bit in this respect. Still, it is interrupted by moments where he mentions others that completely throw you out of the equation and make it less personal. Such isn’t fully an illumination of perspective, nostalgia and remembrance as the emcee who composes the second verse.

Even though the opening line, “My first album was a set-up”,  is undeniably intriguing Taylor doesn’t have the vocabulary or intricate rhythm of Ab-Soul’s lyrical go. He tries to line himself up with the self-examination set up in the concept of the song, and what Ab-Soul sets forth, with declarations such as, “Jayceon had to pitch them pies, better life than flipping fries”.

We are just never as immersed in what we are hearing when compared to what Ab-Soul presents.

For bars we get about as many exceptionally clever pieces as desperate, contrived ones. The most prominent of this is the assertion, “Tell me who the next to die/ Probably who the next in line/ They got me babbling ghost/ ‘cuz I’m the illest one alive/”.

The reference to Jay-Z’s “Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)” from 2001’s The Blueprint (where it was a hidden track), whether intentional or not, is also noteworthy and sly. This can be found in the remark, “I put them weights down/ Start practicing lyrical exercise.”

“Call me Game/ I ain’t one/ Still I get paid like an athlete”, works well-enough. Still, it seems like standard service braggadocio. It compromises one of the lesser moments of The Game’s wordplay herein.

To the discredit of both artists there is little of the description in The Game or Ab-Soul’s verse which conjures truly vibrant imagery to mind.

Regardless, Taylor’s assertion that, “Move the Yay or kiss the sky/ For having dreams that 50 died/ Eulogy by Mary Blige/ Hopped up in that enterprise/ Had to stop a genocide”, certainly brings forth the most striking and vivid mental conception of the entire endeavor.

This does little to sway us from the reality that both verbal turns are aggressive. They easily convey two talented emcees fighting for microphone supremacy. The song is an absolute knock-out because of this factor but, Ab-Soul’s punchlines, description and experience are more moving.

Bars may not fully be the focus of this five-minute and fifty-six second anthem. Still, they surface with rapidity throughout the tune. They are seen in a steady stream of ups and downs with their bits. Even though they differ in quality in both segments, Ab-Soul’s wordplay has a higher success rate. Such only secures his crown. Disagree? Let us know down below.

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