It’s a Friday afternoon in Times Square minutes before rush hour begins. People are bustling through the New York City summer streets, but posted up in the Renaissance Hotel lounge, Jayceon Taylor acts like he doesn’t have a care in the world.
The 31-year old emcee is seated among a crew of about 10, messing around with his new Android phone. He’s taking 3D pics of his friends eating buffalo wings and then showing them the photographic proof. “Look at this shit, man,” he says about the noticeable difference in 3D quality. Game doesn’t look like the shit-talking rapper who plots the demise of Lil B while simultaneously seducing Erykah Badu on his fourth studio LP, The R.E.D. Album. Rocking a red Nike basketball Jersey, he smiles like he’s in a boy-band (especially when he’s dissing someone) but stands tall and built like their bodyguard. He doesn’t look crazy at all; he just looks like he’s having a great time making you think he is.
Game’s rise to the top was not without obstacles. Once 50 Cent’s right-hand man, Game rose several rungs on that corporate ladder to become the Doctor’s Advocate. Anyone who questioned Dre’s cosign of Game can listen to the interludes on R.E.D. for proof that their friendship is in fact real and it’s serious. Without question, his latest effort was a labor of love, taking over two years to finish with the tracklisting changing up until a week before its release. Game wanted the perfect balance, and he believes he found it. While he contractually owes Interscope one more album, his moves after that are up in the air.
A father before a fighter, Game has priorities that go above and beyond an obligation to Hip Hop. That doesn’t mean he’ll retire – or maybe he will, as he chalks his indecision up to being bipolar. The last time Hip Hop saw such attitude-shifting charisma was with one Tupac Shakur. The only difference is Game’s battles end at Tweet-level, never reaching street level. He’s too busy for all of that.
Game Breaks Down The Making Of The R.E.D. Album
HipHopDX: The R.E.D. Album was a long time coming. How many different forms did it take over the two years it was being created?
Game: The R.E.D. Album has been through a rollercoaster – it’s been ups, it’s been downs, it’s been release dates, it’s been pushbacks – but through it all I think I’ve been working the whole time. Man sometimes I had to be a father, other times I had to go on tour, I had to help with [Dr. Dre’s] Detox, I had to do The R.E.D. Album, and I had to stay afloat trying to perfect and put out Purp & Patron so you know life goes on in between. All the time people feel like they are waiting and waiting and waiting, but I have a life too, you know what I’m saying? In life things happen that sort of render your health sometimes and you either have to halt the process and go in the studio for a week or go on tour for a month to keep the bills paid so that’s what happens. But, through it all I maintained my focus, which was getting the project out and making sure that it was classic. I think at this point, I think I really outdid myself.
DX: Waiting played into your favor; especially with some of the collaborations you have on the album like Kendrick Lamar and Tyler the Creator. They might have not been around a few years ago had you put out the album then.
Game: I think about that all the time. I think if we would have went with Justin Timberlake and a Pharrell single, just think of how many people wouldn’t have been on the album. So with that being said, everything that happened with the album, it benefited in my favor at the end of the day because I have the best album, period. From Tyler, the Creator to [Lil] Wayne to Drake to Dr. Dre and Pharrell, I think I’m the only Hip Hop artist that could have featured Dr. Dre and Drake on the same album or Pharrell, Wayne, Tyler, the Creator, Nelly Furtado, Beanie [Sigel], Rick Ross, everyone on the album, Wale, Mario. I put together the best possible album in this climate that I possibly could.
Game Explains His Feeling On Friends Being Cool With 50 Cent & Jay-Z
DX: For better or for worse, you seem to make a lot of noise in Hip Hop. With this, you have created relationships with artists and it has made it possible to have all of them on the album. How are you cool with the people on your project when they might be cool with people you aren’t cool with?
Game: People can be cool with whoever they want to be cool with. If you’re cool with me, you can be cool with [Jay-Z] or you can be cool with 50 [Cent]. I don’t care, that’s you and your personal thing, and your personal relationships have nothing to do with me. I’m not going to dictate who is friends with who. That’s what 50 tried to do once with me. I didn’t want to part ways for the love I have with Nas and Jadakiss’ music and that ended and it ultimately led to the fall of G-Unit, but I’m not that guy…but you know. You can fuck with whoever you wanna be cool with as long as I’m cool with the people I’m cool with and I’m fine with that.
DX: How did you go about picking the final tracks for the album?
Game: I didn’t do it alone; I did it with my peers and the label and the A&Rs. It was a long battle, but we worked it out and that’s the craziest part about doing complete albums. Once you get to start picking the tracks out, then you’ve got to sequence them and that shit is like pulling baby teeth, man. Some songs go and you’ve got to wish them farewell. They’ll probably go on the mixtape or go in the vault; you know it’s a sad process. I never want to knock songs off or not put all the songs on that I worked on for the album. You’ve got to get it down to 12, but still every time they tell me they be like, “Game they’re only 12 songs” because they do the 10-for-10, but I don’t know for some reason they love me, so I keep coming in at 17,18.
DX: That’s what it is for this project?
Game: Yeah it was more money, I think, too. Three or four hundred grand for this one.
DX: Seems like you’re putting the project first.
Game: It’s just…it’s my music. It’s what I started off wanting to do and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
DX: Dre’s is narrating the album. How did that happen?
Game: Number one, I think it’s dope that I got him to do that. I wrote everything he said. I wrote it myself and to get Dr. Dre to say anything, it could be 10, 12 years you know what I’m saying? But, he trusted me and it was the truth and so he’s basically narrating through the album a little bit about my life and how it pertains to the song before and after.
DX: In your AllHipHop interview you said you want people to think you’re crazy. How does that prove positive or negative for you?
Game: I don’t really care. I’m not really trying to prove anything to anybody these days. I’m just kind of going through life and doing me. I think that critics, haters and people that always have something to say about Game only understand what I mean to Hip Hop until it’s all really said and done. No matter what you say about me. I’m not saying I don’t start no beefs, I’m talking about the folks that are on Twitter and they got the little arrow that says, “Big Sean would kill The Game.” I look at that and nothing to Big Sean or anything, but that’s how simple-minded Hip Hop fans are these days. New artists, just because you come out and you’re fresh and you’re new, you wanna disrespect someone who is iconic and paved the way for artists like Big Sean? But to each his own man. At the end of the day I’m judged depending on the person and I don’t care either way.
DX: When you jumped in the middle of Tyler, the Creator’s and Chris Brown’s beef and said it’s not worth it. Is that because you worked with both of them?
Game: Well that, and the fact that I know them both personally. Chris [Brown] is a real dear friend of mine, my lil’ homie and I’ve been talking to him ever since the Rihanna mishap and I tried to get him back into the limelight, and he made it so I didn’t want to see himself get knocked down again. With Tyler [the, Creator, Odd Future is] a new group and they’ve got a big cult following. A lot of people love Odd Future. A lot of these kids just want to see them and have their chance of being legends and so I don’t wanna see either of them getting hurt. That whole beef took place in L.A. and once I got a call and it got down to the street level you know what I’m saying, I had to step in, utilize my resources and kind of put it to bed.
DX: It seems like you know when to cut beefs off. What do you consider as your barometer for something like that?
Game: I work off of how I feel at the moment. That’s why everyone thinks, “Oh, Game is wack, oh he changes his mind.” No, we all change our mind that’s why we we’re just in the spotlight and so you can get locked on to my decisions and me being very opinionated, but if I’m feeling a certain way, that’s just how I’m feeling. I’ll be very vocal about it. If I don’t feel the same way tomorrow, I will say that. Somebody might say I’m bipolar because I always change my mind and I am and so if my bipolar is attacked then fuck it, that’s me.
DX: Seems like everyone is bipolar now.
Game: Bipolar is the new “swag.” [Laughs]
DX: Now on “Pot of Gold” you said you’ll give Interscope two more albums and then you’re done for good. Then there’s talk about you going to Cash Money, but did you mean done with the industry or just done with Interscope?
Game: To be totally honest, I don’t even know what I meant when I said that. I think that that shit rhymed and so I needed it and it could have been true and it might be true. But it’s in the future, so I’ve got time to decide if I want that line to really be true or make sense or I could refute it. I think when I wrote that it just rhymed, because they’re ain’t much shit that rhyme with “hood.” I think that “leave the hood” was the bar before that so I needed “good.”
Game Explains Next Album, Potential Cash Money Deal
DX: So Cash Money is still an option, right?
Game: Anywhere is still an option. That’s still in the future and once I get to that bridge I am going to cross it, but I got a long way to go. I’ve got a whole other album that will take two-and-a-half years and if it does, I’ll be 33 and I probably won’t wanna rap. I’ll probably be elevating myself to the next level of entertainment which is movies, acting or step behind the scenes and do something with a label or get a position at a label, you never know.
DX: The day you become a free agent, people will be chasing after you.
Game: Yeah they are already chasing.
DX: Who in the next generation of artists that you have either seen or have worked with do you see as the next big one?
Game: Personally, and people may not agree, but I like Meek Mill. I like him a lot. I think he [has] got a tremendous amount of room for growth. I listen to him, I listen to his freestyles. I listen to him when he is writing real songs and he is good at that and so that’s the dude that I’m gonna chant as far as the East Coast is concerned. And in the West, it’s gotta be Kendrick Lamar.
DX: Do you see yourself in any of these new rappers?
Game: Nope. They’re not as handsome as me. They’re not as tall as me. They’re not as lyrically insane as me. Nah, they cool.
DX: Tell me about Kid Red…
Game: Kid Red is the biggest star without a song on the Internet. And the reason he hasn’t released that is because he is still trying to find his style. What I’m advising him to do is not get locked into a certain style, because Hip Hop changes everyday.
So until then I got him listening to old, listening to new. I’ve got him around when I’m doing interviews, I’ve got him around when I’m on 106 & Park, when I’m on MTV, when we go to parties, when we in clubs, when we’re flying, when we’re doing shows so that he’s well rounded. Once he really decides to lock down on a style, he’s going to present himself to the world that he’s well traveled and relies on Hip Hop in general and how it works, so he’s a lot more comfortable and he can get a better start.
DX: You put on Twitter a few months ago that “We don’t work with Nu JerZy Devil.” He’s no longer part of Black Wall Street but he’s still repping R.E.D. What’s with that?
Game: No I had to refute that and take it back. What happened was he got caught up with some jenky promoters. And what they did was [against] my livelihood, my children, taking care of my family and he fucked up. Sp he spent everyday since then repaying that debt, but he was one of the first members of Black Wall Street and he also was a friend of mine and so I had to bring the axe down to show him that I was serious. It could have been something that could have lasted a long time, but he did what he could to make it right and did his thing.
DX: What was it like working with Lex Luger on the album?
Game: Lex Luger’s dope. He’s the next best Hip Hop producer. He along with Boi-1da and Mars are three of my favorite new artists. Boi-1da, you know what you’re going to get with him. It’s going to hit and it’s going to hit hard. Shout out to him and everything he doing.
DX: How did you get Nelly Furtado on the album?
Game: That was Pharrell. Pharrell had a relationship with Nelly and he thought that she would sound crazy on the hook [to “Mama Knows”] so he did that, and it reminds me of Janet Jackson. Like she sounds like Janet Jackson on that song and every time I hear it, nobody can really sing in that cadence and you gotta be real special and who’s better than Nelly Furtado?
DX: How has fatherhood affected your artistry?
Game: It takes a lot to be a good father, and it also takes away from the music. You know I spend a lot of time with my kids and that’s time I spend away from Hip Hop, but Hip Hop weighing against my children, it doesn’t weigh at all so I got to be a dad first and that’s never going to change. The next album might be a year, might be two, might be six months, but my kids are going to get their time in and that’s where I need to be.
DX: It seems like you always have a good paternal or big brother instinct the way you take people under your wing. What inspires you to do this?
Game: I’m just a good dude. I love people that I see promise in that I can help. If I can’t help you, I can’t help everyone.
DX: Are you getting the feeling that you want to retire at any point soon?
Game: Nah that’s what R.E.D. is all about. It’s about a rededication to myself, to Hip Hop, to fans, to life, to my family, my girl. I’m just trying to be the best I can in just everything I’m doing so I’m here in Hip Hop as long as they’ll have me. So the bipolar in me might change his mind tomorrow. [Laughs]
DX: Any new concepts for the next album?
Game: I think I got the title for the next album already yesterday from a good friend of mine, Shaheem Reid. We were talking and he said something that stuck in my mind, of course I won’t say what it is, R.E.D. ain’t even in stores yet, but I’m going to play around with the idea. I am going to see if it’s something that I can accomplish, because the title itself is going to be something conceptual and every need is going to have to be met for the music to meet the title.