The Game: Man Vs. Machine

posted June 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 90 comments

The game don't wait, at least that's what Warren G once said. However, The Game says that Hip Hop may have to wait on him to hear more after three largely-publicized, arguably classic albums. The third in the trilogy, L.A.X., is the topic at an early afternoon conversation in a Geffen Records corner office in New York City.

Surrounded by his homeboys from Compton and industry mastermind Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond, The Game discusses Hip Hop in its purest form. Spouting off artists of yesteryear, recounting famous battles and quoting lyrics, The Game might seem like an unlikely lecturer for the university circuit. However, The Game is both a diligent student of Hip Hop and one of its biggest headline drivers. The 27 year-old needs no inquisition to speak about separation from Dr. Dre, a self-proclaimed victory over G-Unit and a sleeping giant perspective on Jay-Z.

Although it seems it's impossible to get The Game to not be controversial, the first Compton rapper since his mentor to further the city's legacy seems to be about bigger issues than feuds, bravado and half-stepping rumors of retirement. Whether his promises are to be believed or not, the rapper who has been one of the few platinum superstars to still serve time, demonstrates his love of Hip Hop history, and use his underdog status to do what EPMD, Too Short, Master P and Jay-Z did before him - threaten to hang it up if we don't wake up. HipHopDX shows you an artist, a dreamer and a victim of circumstance - Game, the man, versus the machine.

HipHopDX: One of my favorite singles of the year is Game's Pain" [click to view]. I think it might be the first time Kool Hercs name, or maybe even Red Alert have been mentioned in a mainstream rap single, ever. You even have a line about that with Big Daddy Kane. I know early in your career, critics including myself joked around with your name-dropping. Do you feel at this point in your career that youre actually educating these kids?
The Game:
Yeah, I definitely think that. I think that Im a big enough artist to be vocal enough for kids. What I did with Games Pain is, I want new school cats to know where it started, where Hip Hop comes from, who did it before us, and who we should pay homage to and who we shouldnt. On the second hand, I want to remind these old school cats and these cats existing in Hip Hop now, lets not forget; lets not get too far away from the essence of what true Hip Hop is supposed to be.

So every now and then, Im gonna name-drop some of my favorite artists of my career. I write the lyrics, I can do whatever I want, and I sell millions of records every time, so its obviously not too painful to hear about it. And if you think about it, theres a lot of people that say, Game name-drops too much, but then I listen to everybody else, like every other rapper, and they be doing the same thing, but nobody catches it when they do it. My whole career, man, people have always been trying to find shit to render me helpless, but it dont work, cause I dont give a fuck, I just rap how I rap, and you can hate it or love it. You can buy my shit or you can leave it on the shelf. I dont ever try to over-sell myself, my albums, my records; I dont a give a fuck if you dont buy my records, dont buy my shit buy the one next to it, like who cares? I make music for me and my fans and the people who appreciate me. All the people who judge, criticize and knit-pick like little bitches and shit, just buy somebody elses shit, thats it. You aint gonna buy Game; leave my shit on the shelf.

DX: You said Hate It Or Love It. Thats the Juicy of the new era, in terms of a rags-to-riches story. This is your third album in a very successful career, do you still feel like an underdog?
Yeah, Im still an underdog. Cause you know the wholesuccess, me bein a big rapper, none of that still aint hit me. I think for the last five or six years, Ive just been coastin. I never got a chance to go Hollywood or act different or be funny or none of that; Im just enjoyin myself, man. Thats what a lot of people dont understand. Cats come at me. Rappers want beef and say shit; I got the reckless tongue, and I dont know you, really, I dont give a fuck about you. Ive got my homies, my friends, my family, people I care about, so to go rip somebodys head off on a mixtape songits underground, period. And it aint nothin to me; I do it all day. Ten out of 10 times, aint nobody bout to pick up a gun, drive by my house and do a drive-by; 50 [Cent] [click to read] aint comin by with no gun sprayin at my house; I aint goin by his house, cause thatd be stupid. For the most part, its just a wax war. If you think about it, beef, these days, people just got it misconstrued.

They make a bigger deal out of it than it really is. Cause beef been goin on since Busy Bee or MC Shan, since KRS-One [click to read] and The Bridge Is Over, since Run-DMC, back in the days, Roxanne Shante, everybody had beef. N.W.A. had beef. Bone Thugs [N Harmony] [click to read] had beef with [Tha] Dogg Pound [click to read]. Uncle Luke [click to read] and Tim Dog [had beef] with Snoop [Dogg] and [Dr.] Dre. That shits been goin on. Nowadays, everybody just puts the magnifying glass on it in the wake of the untimely demises of Biggie and 2Pac. Since that happened, everybody just goes overboard with the beef shit in the media. People dont understand, 10 out of 10 times, its the media, magazines and people that really fuel the fire in these shits.

DX: You just ran through a grocery list of Hip Hop history. Youre this mainstream artist that studied his lessons. Do you think Hip Hop as an institution gives you enough credit for things like that information right there?
Nah. I dont think nobody really understands what Ive done in Hip Hop with my career. From the early stages till now, Im anywhere from five to 10 years gone from Hip Hop. [They'll appreciate me when] my whole beard is gray, then people will look back, theyll understand, theyll respect what I did, but I dont do it for the respect of people, man.

I think if you look at some of my accolades that I cherish in Hip HopI withstood, [Im attached] to one of the biggest beefs in Hip Hop history. If you think about the biggest beefs in history, the only one that was bigger than mines, killed two of my favorite rap artists. Beef with me and 50 was just as big as Biggie and 2Pacs in terms of that type of war. It was shootouts, and it was diss records, and I went to his house on some crazy, dumb shit, and I did what I did, and the only thing that didnt come out of that beef was that neither one of us got killed. But that was a big beef, and I annihilated [G-Unit] as a group. Their record is coming out soon, and they bout to catch a brick; their [single] aint even got 500 spins, and Games Pain is damn near 4,000 on paying homage. So that right there 300 Bars, the longest fuckin mixtape diss the longest diss song ever recorded in Hip Hop history; you could play it like the shits three minutes. I got BDS spins on 300 Bars And Runnin; it was on the radio. People was takin out [the curses] if you played 300 Bars on your radio station, that means there was three artists, three songs that wasnt getting played at all in that point in time. That shit was big, man.

Im a product of Dr. Dre. I appreciate everything he did for me. I havent really been around him. I spoke to Dr. Dre recently, but I have really been around him to chill or record in years, but just being around him those first few years gave me enough to last me my whole career as far as creativity and how to make these classic albums become movies. People wont respect me till after, but thats fine with me, cause thats not what I do it for, I do it cause love doin it, and once I get tired of doing it, then I wont do it no more.

DX: Youve got Common on the album. His work with T.I. was groundbreaking, so I'm curious about this union. Tell me about this collaboration
G: Common
s one of my favorite emcees of all-time. Like I said, this album, I figured it to be my last album, cause I recorded with the people that I wanted to record with, that I always wanted to record with, and that I recorded with in the past that I really love. Like, [I] got Nas on the album on a song called Letter To The King. We just both wrote 16 bar letters to Dr. Martin Luther King.

Me and Common [click to read] the song is called Angel, produced by Kanye West. Common just came off so crazy. I just let him go in. Kanye made a beat, and I had my boy J. West come in, this new R&B singer from Cali sing the hook. Common heard the hook [and said], Oh, its about angels? I think about angels all the time. We both just went in the studio and he just boppin his head like this, words started comin out, he was like Shit! He was in and out the booth in like five minutes. No doubles. No ad-libs. Just did his verse straight through.

Another person that I got on the album that I always wanted to call was Ice Cube [click to read], before he was done. I always wanted to make that happen, and I made that happen, and its like a classic, west coast, hood Ice Cube and Game, you know it shouldve been done a long time ago joint. Its called State of Emergency, produced by J.R. [Rotem].

DX: Ice Cube doesnt rap anymore, but he releases street albums for his longtime, core fans. You recently told Angie Martinez you prefer that movie money to record money, but cant you do both, like Cube?
I cant see that far right now, but I know what mind-state Im in, I couldnt say on what I would do in the rest of my life and career. I think that after three albums and Im pretty sure this ones gonna go multi-platinum like the other ones; I think that three platinum albums are more than most of the Hip Hop artists [you and I] like, get. Nobody gives off three classics. Not to toot my own horn or sound cocky, but The Documentary [click to read] was a classic album. The Doctors Advocate [click to read] was a dope, classic album. This one, its gonna be a classic album.

My albums are what Dres albums would be if he gave them to you as frequently as I did. [If] you didnt have to wait 10 years for a Dre album then it would be these albums. I think that when Dr. Dre hears this album, some or most of the songs, hes gonna be like, Damn, I couldve used that on Detox, this is crazy, but thats because Ive been there, I know what to do, I know how to make these movies - I know how to make these songs come to life and look like movies to your ears. Thats just what Dre taught me, and thats one thing I always prided him and appreciated him for, if nothing else, was just teachin me the way to record music, and its just the way that I do it that nobody else can do it.

People dont understand, or dont care or dont really get that my voice my changes sometimes, my style changes; Im a man of many styles, man, and nobody ever notices, and if they do, they never said nothin. Anybody I could do your favorite rapper better than him. Thats why Im The Game. Thats what I set out to do, and I think Im damn near where I dreamed of being when I started.

DX: I read the XXL story; I saw The Source cover. Everybody is portraying you to be really vulnerable, whether or not you are. However, I do know that All Eyez On Me came out of vulnerability, Stillmatic came out of vulnerability, maybe Tha Carter III came out of vulnerability. If you feel vulnerable, how has that translated into L.A.X.?
It doesnt, cause my feelings and my vulnerability hasnt really effected my vulnerability process. I set my mind on recording this album a certain way. No matter how I felt, when I got to the studio, all of those thoughts, all of those feelings, whatever I was up against was out the window when I was back, staying [close] to my album. I didnt go outside the lines, I stayed in. I knew what I wanted to do, and I accomplished that.

Interscope dont want me to retire; they want me to come back in February with another album, which is so far off my radar its ridiculous. Now, if you give me like five, 10 million dollars or something to do itIm the biggest thing in that building now, with the recent demise of G-Unit, and thats just it, man.

The album isits a good album. I dont have to say shit, I got albums to back it up, I got a school of mixtape shits, people know what Im capable of. Will there be name-dropping on this album? Yes. Will it be the same fuckin controversial shit that I always spit about, just different toilet? Yes. Will the beats be crazy? Yall know my ear for beats is fuckin retarded yes. The next single is gonna be fuckin crazy.

I get albums done on no money. Everybodys paid after me. My album is a month [from releasing]; nobody has been paid. People just work with me cause they want to work with me. I work with people cause I want to work with them. Its not about money, its about Hip Hop, and people need to understand that. When they understand that, then theyll understand how to be successful in this business, and how to appreciate Hip Hop and how to sell multi-how to sell a lot of fuckin records, like Lil Wayne is about to do, like Kanye does, like I do, like 50 once did, like [Eminem] does everytime he comes in sellin records is what were here for, man. Were not here to bullshit our time away, were here to coexist in Hip Hop with the other legends and people that are gonna be iconic. And I feel like after six years of my career, Im one of those people.

DX: You mentioned controversy. You released a track that surfaced, My Bitch. You were around when Kurupt released Calling Out Names as a hidden track or 2Pac had Hit Em Up as a b-side on the How Do You Want It? maxi-single. With that said, those records erupted. My Bitch is crazy, why didnt it stir up more controversy?
I just threw it out. One day I felt like, Let me just throw this shit out. I didnt do a "Game, make a lot of noise, here it comes"

DX: You didnt push the button.
I didnt push the button. I just threw it out. People got it, they heard it, appreciated it, but it never hit. I could fuckin re-release that on a mixtape today, make some noise, and it would fuckin go, cause My Bitch was incredible. The way that I formatted the song, the things that I talk about, the people that I talk aboutI never got responses from nobody; Im just that reckless, man. It is what it is, man. I respect all rappers until they disrespect me, and then after that, they will be disrespected, and thats how it is, man. I got the reckless tongue, man. Busta Rhymes called me yesterday on Rap City the Troublemaker Man. Aw, here comes Troublemaker Man.

DX: Whether its it with this album, in 10 years, how do you think youve taken something legendary in rap like Compton and furthered it?
I dont think I did anything. I think that N.W.A., DJ Quik, MC Eiht and Comptons Most Wanted, they put in all the work for me. They left it wide open for me. All I had to do was come, put on the hat and make sure I wore it right make sure I didnt disrespect the letters on it, and that I stayed true to my city and my people. I think that Ive done that. I think that Eazy-E would be proud, Im pretty sure that Dr. Dre knows who I am, what Im about, how strong my voice is. I know Cube respects it. King Tee, [MC] Ren I never met Ren; I met King Tee, I met D.O.C., who thinks highly of me. Thats all the praise that I need, in my whole career stamped by niggas who did it before me, did it the right way, did it for meit always feels better when Michael Jordan tells Kobe [Bryant] Youre doing a good job. Thats how I feel by being stamped by all those cats.

Even other cats on the east coast. Havin Nas say that Im the only cat in Hip Hop that he fucks with; the rest of these niggas is pussies. That, coming from Illmatic is like its huge, man. Even though me and [Jay-Z] dont talk or do songs, he knows. He listens. He heard the Youre 38, and youre still rappin, ugh [from Its Okay (One Blood)] [click to read]. He came back on Kingdom Come and I was like, Yeah! Jay listens to my shit! [quoting] I used to think that rapping at 38 was ill / Till last year I grossed about 38 mill. I was like, I know who he is talkin to. I know he listens. I know his antennas up." Maybe one day hell do a song with me, and then Ill stop shootin subliminals.

Ill let you know this - and only you: if I do come back with another album, itll be called The D.O.C. Itll have 10 songs on it. It wont have titles, itll just be Chapter One through Ten, and [it stands for] The Diary of Compton. The only way that Ill do The D.O.C. or comeback to do that album is if I can get Ren, King Tee, Dre, Cube, because I dont want any features except people whove been through Compton and really made their mark. Im gonna get some DJ Quik tracks on there. If I can make The Diary of Compton happen, and can get Dre to executive produce that, then youll see a fourth album. If not, youll see me drivin by the park in California, youll see me throwing balls with my kids, thats it. Thats my reality.

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