In the midst of that pounding New York concrete heat, Game greets me with a firm handshake outside of his Midtown hotel. Two months prior to the release of his R.E.D. album, The Compton Rap star exudes nothing but confidence. We jump into a black Mercedes Benz van, en route for a series of events that may seem extraordinary to most of us, but are just a day in the life to Aftermath’s middle child. Vh1’s Hip Hop Honors‘ taping is just the beginning of my hours with Jayceon Taylor, but it’s quickly apparent that he will not leave New York City without making it just a little bit hotter.
It’s apparent that Game both enjoys and underplays his stardom. En route to our second destination, the platinum star in white tee, jeans and a tucked-in chain watches an anxious group of students in elegant attire cross 8th Avenue. Bringing his window down, Game yells, “Be careful tonight!” to the teens. They react with glares and eyerolls, unaware that celebrity cautions them.
The rapper slides open the van door and shows them to take heed to these particular words of wisdom. The prom goers stand in disbelief, as Game smiles, and then closes the door. One has to wonder if the charismatic Rap character we’ve gotten to know over the last six years would be doing this sort of thing anyway, without the fame, the millions, or the “ah, ha” moment.
For all the bragging you hear on his records and in many of his interviews, Game constantly reminds anyone in his company of his humanity. Towards the end of the evening, we are at Power 105, visiting DJ Clue. On his phone, Game has a picture with his grandmother that he stares intently at, unaware that anyone sees. However, everybody’s watching.
We know what to expect from Game, the controversial Hip Hop star who drives headlines and speaks with reckles truth. But it’s how Jayceon Taylor, the man intervenes that stardom that makes so many fans embrace this man as David, and not Goliath.
HipHopDX: A lot of people believe that this R.E.D. album is representative of your affiliation with the Bloods, but it really stands for your rededication to Hip Hop and music. What made you realize that you wanted to continue putting out music, especially after you said you were retiring after your L.A.X. album? Was there a specific moment that led you to want to “rededicate” yourself to your music?
Game: If people think it got something to do with my gang affiliation, it do. It’s just red; it’s the color and every aspect of it that sort of attains itself to me. You can think what you want, but it’s really the rededication of myself to Hip Hop and to my fans, to my family, and life…just to life in general. This project feels like starting all over, feels like the beginning again. All the old entities are back, you know outside of 50 [Cent], but we got Pharrell in, so that kind of covers that. But it just feels like the beginning so I called it the Rededicated album.
DX: It was announced that R.E.D. is delayed until late August. We heard that you might be doing some additional recording. Did you just get the premonition that you had more to say, or did someone reach out? What prompted that in the eleventh hour?
Game: Nah, just had a couple of producers I wanted to work with that I feel could have really really took the album over the top and so that’s what we are doing in the next couple of weeks. We are going to see [DJ] Toomp and try to get in with [DJ] Premier and make it a little more classic than it already is.
DX: The staff at DX was recently agreeing that in the last decade, you’ve got the best beats from Dr. Dre. Whether it was The Documentary or stuff that leaked later, you and Snoop Dogg’s Blue Carpet Treatment were just such massive moments in Dre’s catalog. From your studio chemistry, do you think there’s a reason for that? What you bring out of each other?
Game: I just think that with [Dr. ]Dre, it ain’t chemistry, it just is what it is man; that’s Dr. Dre. He’s the best producer in the world. No matter who records with him; Dre can make you a star over night. If you go in with Dre tomorrow, and he works on a couple tracks, then all of a sudden everybody is waiting for your album to come out. He’s just so iconic. Everything he does is just classic man. I’m glad that we have a close working relationship, and that when I need him he always comes through.
DX: The Documentary is a fan favorite for many rap fans. Tracks like “Westside Story”, “Dreams”, and “Don’t Need Your Love” were very different from anything that was out at that time. Do you think R.E.D. will have that same effect on fans? How does it show your progression as an artist?
Game: My progression as an artist on the new album will be showed through my lyricism and the way that I tell stories now are very reminiscent of how I did on The Documentary. The beats are always going to be there, I got the dopest beats in Hip Hop for an entire album. So every beat is going to be out of here and crazy, and it should be. With producers like Cool & Dre, and Dr. Dre, and Pharrell, and Timbaland, and I got it in with Swizz Beatz and Ryan Leslie, a whole bunch of dope producers. I think that when fans get the album they gonna be real satisfied.
DX: Of all the Rap stars on Twitter, your tweets are some of the most entertaining. From the artist’s perspective, what’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learned being so accessible to your fans and your critics?
Game: I just go through life. And however I wake up in the morning, that’s just how I carry out the day. I don’t really learn life lessons, I kind of just analyze people, and I take my lessons from other people that make mistakes. These days I’ve grown a little more wise with age; it sort of breeds that. I learn life lessons like every day, from different people, from everybody. But one thing I learned the most is that as long as you keep it absolutely 100% with yourself, then other people will see it the same way.
DX: We recently interviewed your Aftermath label-mate Slim da Mobster. As two street soldiers in the Rap game, how’s that working relationship been?
Game: Slim [da Mobster] is fresh, new talent. Dr. Dre really believes in him, so I believe in him. I think he’s dope, he’s raw, and he’s from L.A., so I’m sort of biased.
DX: Can you speak about Black Wall Street. Recently, Mysonne appears to be down with the camp, but will 2010 see that official release debut from your imprint?
Game: I think about early 2011. We just now starting to get these mixtapes rolling. We did one with DJ Skee, The Red Room , that was crazy, and online critics loved it. And then we about to put out another mixtape with [DJ] Drama then one more with Skee, and that’ll cover the rest of the year. Then at the top of the year, we will be coming out with probably a compilation or before next summer, or something like that, depending on how everybody’s work ethic is and how my touring is. We got the cover of Murder Dog this month, and you know I’m laying the foundation.
DX: Michael Jackson must have been a huge influence in your life since you were a part of the Michael Jackson tribute that dropped the day after his death. What was it like working on the track “Better On The Other Side”? How did his death impact you?
Game: It just felt like I was doing him a justice. He had just passed, and I felt like I was just the first on the job. I felt like, if something happened to somebody, or Michael Jackson…the first person on the scene that sort of helped, I felt like I was that person. I was the first person to get down to the studio and then I made phone calls while I was getting down, we made the beat fast, called Diddy, called Chris Brown, called Usher – Boyz II Men was already in the studio. We just basically got it done quickly.
DX: You recently stated in an interview that you do not feel that it is necessary to promote your new album, because real Game fans will go ahead and buy it. However, it seems as if your product manager Andrew Flad feels differently about that. Have you guys come to an agreement about promotion plans for this album?
Game: I think that people took that the wrong way. I just said that I feel like that after three albums, and this one being my fourth one, that my fans – I don’t necessarily have to go out and just say, “Hey, go buy my album.” I don’t have to force people to buy the album. Sometimes with promotion, that’s what labels send you out to do; go sell yourself. I don’t think I have to do that anymore. I think everybody knows who I am and who I’m about. And I still come and make these runs, but I’m not making nobody go buy the album. I don’t give a fuck if you buy it or not. You know, get it how you get it. If you don’t have the money, and you need to bootleg it, do that. Of course the labels going to think differently, and Flad is one of my working partners. He work for the label, but he my friend outside of that. So, fuck him.
DX: The first three songs of the R.E.D. album will not have any hooks. What was your logic behind starting off your album with you just straight rapping, rather than including any hooks on the songs?
Game: It sort of just happened like that. It wasn’t a plan. I did the tracks at different times, and when I tried to go through the sequence, I ended up lining songs together and I realized they didn’t have hooks.
DX: What are your tour plans with your album? Word is that you will be touring with N.E.R.D.
Game: Yeah, we going to tour with N.E.R.D over in Europe, and then after that I’ll come back and do the U.S. I’m all over the place when it comes to touring.
DX: Often times the public refers to your music as “classic Gangsta Rap.” How do you view your own music?
Game: I don’t. I just let the critics and let you guys do that. I just make it.