Game Interview (Part One)
Like most high-profile ‘retirement’ announcements, The Game‘s claim that last year’s L.A.X. LP would be his final studio album proved to be… well, greatly exaggerated. After six years of grinding, touring and – yes – engaging in high-profile beef with everyone from Jay-Z to G-Unit, the rapper born Jayceon Taylor simply needed a breath of fresh air and a change of scenery. Now, the Left Coast icon’s many devoted fans will be happy to hear that Game’s back, rejuvenated, and thoroughly R.E.D.edicated to what really matters: the music.
The R.E.D. Album, Game’s fourth full-length, is shaping up to be a landmark project in several regards, not least of which is its high-profile pair of executive producers: Game’s early mentor, West Coast legend Dr. Dre (returning to work with the emcee for the first time since ‘05’s The Documentary) and superstar artist/beatsmith Pharrell Williams. Featuring buzz singles “Krazy” and “Big Money” (feat. Gucci Mane & Timbaland), the album is scheduled to land on store shelves sometime this February.
In part one of Game’s exclusive interview with our own DJ Z, the heavyweight rapper discusses the reasons behind his decision to drop the “The” from his stage name, why his reputation as a beef-lover is a misnomer, and the status of the D.O.C. (Diary of Compton) project he described to us back in June of ‘08.
Listen to the Interview
Game Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a hip-hop heavyweight who, since his last interview with us in June of 2008, has released an album, changed his stage name, and went right back into the studio to start recording for his next project. Gearing up for the release of his fourth studio album, The R.E.D. Album, this winter, please welcome Game!
Game: What’s up, man?
DJ Booth: How are you doin’?
Game: I’m wonderful, man.
DJ Booth: How was your Thanksgiving?
Game: Thanksgiving, it was give and take, man; I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, everybody enjoyed themselves, the whole family. [And the other thing is], my uncle Brett passed away on Thanksgiving, after helping make Thanksgiving dinner, so that’s something I’m dealing with this week. But it’s all good, man.
DJ Booth: I’m sorry to hear about that.
Game: It’s a life cycle, man, we all gotta go. I’ll just say peace to my uncle Brett, and we can carry on on a lighter note, man.
DJ Booth: Well, I’m sure he’s proud of everything you’ve accomplished up to this point, and everything you have going on moving forward. So, you dropped “The” from your stage name – did you lose a bet, did you find it difficult to sign autographs, or none of the above?
Game: [laughs] I just kinda think that, after six or seven years, you’ve gotta keep reinventing yourself. I met Jay-Z one time at the 40/40 Club, and I asked him what was the key to longevity in hip-hop, and this was before our turmoil, before we had any words or were at odds, he just told me, “Every album, you have to reinvent yourself.” And I never forgot that, man, so that’s why every album, it’s always something new with me. But that was minor, man, just to cut the “T-H-E” off. Plus, sometimes in the streets, people always say, “Yo, what’s up, The Game?” It was gettin’ on my nerves, man! [I thought] “What up, Game?” would be easier, so I chopped the “T-H-E.” My name got a haircut and we’re ready to roll.
DJ Booth: You do know that you’ve now made it more difficult for people to Google you, right?
Game: [laughs] Yeah, of course, ‘cause now you google “Game,” and Yankees and Playstation and everything’s gonna come up!
DJ Booth: A few months back. I spoke with Da Spokesman of Rock City, and he revealed that he and his brother had been in the studio with you, working on material for the new album, and he told me you seemed re-energized while recording. Is there anything in particular, Game, that has occurred in your life, which accounts for this rejuvenation?
Game: I think, for the first time in my career, I’ve been able to work on an album with a smile on my face, due to the fact that I don’t have any current beefs, I’m not really worried about what the state of hip-hop is or what’s goin’ on, my label’s a hundred percent supportin’ me and not havin’ to choose sides, bein’ that the me-and-50 beef has kinda-sorta simmered down and withered away. Everything’s cleared away – in hip-hop, my career has blue skies every day. I wake up and everything’s clear, man – I can record, I can do the type of music I want without anybody in my ear, without havin’ to give anybody a bar or two. Man, I’m just making good music. I’ve been able to work with all the big producers that I haven’t worked with yet on this album, plus the ones that I’ve been working with, to kind of formulize my career, so I’m just happy. Everything’s goin’ great, man!
DJ Booth: The title of this album alludes to a re-dedication to your craft, but, in order to rededicate yourself, I assumed that means at one point you felt like you were not dedicated – is that true?
Game: Yeah… I was just knocked off my boat, knocked off track by all of these beefs, and consumin’ myself with other people’s lives and careers, and tryin’ to ruin G-Unit and way too much about 50 and his next move. So I haven’t been one-hundred percent myself in hip-hop, ever. I think the first album was heavily Dr. Dre-influenced, and although it was my pen and my lyrics that everyone hears, that was my introduction to the world, so I can’t account that to how I am now. I’m older, I just had my 30th birthday, I’m a little bit more wise in life and my experiences in hip-hop, and I just elevated my whole game, man, on another level. And this car I drive has got seven gears, and other rappers they only got five.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Isn’t that the truth! You know, you talked about the difference between now and earlier in your career. Do you miss any of the beef or any of the drama that you were a part of?
Game: No way, man! One thing people don’t understand is that – I’ve never told anybody this – the beef, I know it’s sort of become the pattern of my career, but if you go back to every beef, I don’t think I’ve ever really… outside of Jay-Z, I haven’t really picked [on] or poked fun at anybody. The 50 situation, I was just defending myself – all I said was that I wasn’t cool with [him] goin’ at Nas and Fat Joe and Jadakiss. Those are artists who, when I was in the streets and I wasn’t rappin’, I did what I did to their music. Those were icons and role models to me, and people I looked up to in hip-hop before I existed in it. So, when 50 did that whole thing, I just had to defend myself – my whole label turned their back against me, of course 50 sold 10 million albums [with] Get Rich or Die Trying... It’s a business, and even though I sold five million with The Documentary, it didn’t match his, and he had a little bit more say-so in the building, so my back was against the wall. I had to do what I had to do, and I came out on top, and I think people just labeled me “the beef guy” after that. And then, of course, after bein’ labeled that, everybody’s gonna try to throw rocks at the throne or challenge me, and that’s what they’ve been doin’ – I’ve just been defendin’ myself in hip-hop, for the last several years. But it’s all done, there’s nobody else to beef with. I went at the top dog, which is Jay, and even though that didn’t really amount to anything due to his lack of response and my boredom… I mean, it’s music – that’s the focal point.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Yeah, I hear you. Do you ever take the time, though, to consider where you’d be at in your career, had none of that occurred in the first place?
Game: I would be finished, man.
DJ Booth: Really?
Game: I think – yeah, I think that I’d be done, man, ‘Cause I think I’m at my best when there’s something to fight for.
DJ Booth: So now, on this new album, with less to fight for in terms of what you’ve already dealt with, are you confident you’ll be able to move forward?
Game: Yeah. But there’s still more to fight for. Hip-hop. I mean, not to take anything away from the Drake Era – I like to call it the “Drake Era” ‘cause he’s the most prominent artist in modern-day hip-hop, and he’s great; I’ve got a lot of love for Drake. He’s a dope artist, I listen to his music, and so does my girl and my kids and everybody else in the world – it’s the Drake Era. But I’d still like hip-hop to sort of slide back to the art form I know it is. I don’t know if it ever will, but hip-hop keeps changin’ every day, and with guys like me campaigning and lobbying for it to resurface, I think we’ll be OK. So I’m still fightin’ for that, and the way I fight for that is just to make my albums the way that I make ‘em, the way that we both know and all the other people that listen and support me know that I can do.
DJ Booth: You mentioned hip-hop the way you wanna do it, and it’s interesting you said that – last time we spoke, you discussed an idea you had for a new album, that you would tentatively have titled “D.O.C.” or “Diary of Compton,” which you wanted to feature Ice Cube, Ren, Quik, Yella, Dre… Is that a concept that you believe is still a future goal, or have you put that to rest?
Game: It’s a concept that, now, bein’ reunited with my mentor, Dr. Dre, is most definitely accomplishable. Not right now – I had to switch it up, ‘cause The R.E.D. Album is comin’ so fast. It started out as D.O.C., but I wasn’t in tune with Dr. Dre, and of course it would have no reality without him. So I took it in another direction, which was The RE-dedicated Album, and we’re wrappin’ that up with Pharrell this winter, and we’re gonna hit the stores with that. But the D.O.C., I would love for that to be my fifth album. I’ve talked to Dre about it, and he says that if we do it we’ve gotta do it right, and it’s gonna take some time, so as long as I’m willing to be patient he’ll give a hundred percent of his involvement. Cube is a for-sure shot, Ren, I’ve got his number, and King T, those guys are not hard to find, and I definitely think that they’d be involved. We’ll see what the future holds, man, but I would love to be able to knock that album – that would be a dream come true as a hip-hop fan and as an artist.
DJ Booth: Absolutely, I know that I would love to hear that album. You said, “as long as you’re willing to stay patient” – how long is too long, though? Are we talkin’ three, four, five years?
Game: I don’t have that long, man! I think it’ll just be called “The D.O..” If I’ve gotta wait that long I’m gonna have to leave out the “C,” man! But Dre is a perfectionist; I don’t live to step on his toes or be impatient. When he’s looking over my projects or helping do a song… if you’re doing one song with Dr. Dre it might take you three weeks, but it’s definitely gonna be one-hundred percent of what it’s supposed to be, and that’s a hit.