The Game, ``Doctor's Advocate'' (Geffen): When Compton rapper The Game emerged in 2004, he enjoyed the spoils of being discovered by Dr. Dre and associated with 50 Cent's G-Unit crew. His debut album, ``The Documentary,'' went multi-platinum and signaled the birth of new West Coast rap superstar. But after beef sizzled between him and Fiddy, The Game was a man without a country.

Since the split, Dre has effectively taken Fiddy's side and doesn't contribute a track to The Game's sophomore release, ``Doctor's Advocate.'' But the absence of Dre and Fiddy is only a cosmetic change to an otherwise riveting, at times frustrating album.

``I never fall off even without the Doc,'' he declares on album opener, ``Lookin' At You.'' And he's mostly right; the production is stellar. The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am adds some thunderous gangsta boogie on the hometown anthem ``Compton,'' while Scott Storch approximates the Dre/G-Unit sound most successfully on ``Let's Ride'' with its insistent piano chords and soaring, cinematic strings.

And to his credit, The Game's albeit workmanlike delivery rarely gets overshadowed by the beats. However, his wild assertions _ that he's the ``West Coast Rakim'' _ and his repeated name-drops of L.A. rap vets such as Snoop and Dre hint at a rapper balancing the weight of his own fragile ego. He aspires to be West Coast's rap savior but craves approval from the scene's icons.

On the title track, he apologizes in a drunken haze to his estranged mentor: ``And even though sometimes I run loose/ You still my homeboy, Doc/ I'd take a bullet for you.'' That dove may help return him to Dre's good graces, but ``Doctor's Advocate'' seems like proof enough that Game can make it on his own.