Indifference is the true opposite of love, not hate.
It’s a life lesson we all eventually learn: that to hate your detractors is just continuing to show how much you in fact still care what they think of you – that you feel compelled to convince them of your position; of how you were wronged; of why they should feel bad about what they did to you, and why you are justified in striking back at them with an eye-for-an-eye vengeance.
Haters are in fact often just displaced supporters; angry about some violation or another they believe was committed by someone they at one time were actually drawn to. And usually the most effective way to neutralize ones love-turned-hate-filled critics is to not engage them; to not give validity to their oftentimes aimless grievances. But no matter how much he may want to wave off the various criticisms coming at him, the most valuable asset to West Coast Hip Hop over the last decade, Game, can’t seem to stop himself from sniping back at anyone about seemingly anything.
There’s something honorable about that kind of unfiltered emotion: the honesty, the passion, the sincerity, the truth-telling that floods out from someone when inhibitions have dissolved and an almost drunken candor is the only thing left. But there’s simultaneously something unseemly about a 33-year-old man who can’t seem to muster up any more self-control than a tantrum-throwing toddler when he interacts with those around him (as documented on his recent reality show, Marrying the Game, when his wife-to-be cites their five-year-old son as having more maturity than her husband.) Whether in front of VH1 cameras or TMZ paparazzi, (or even his own iPhone), the man born Jayceon Taylor either can’t or won’t compose himself the way most men discover they must in order to protect themselves from more imposing threats and to project a feeling of protection to their more vulnerable loved ones.
So in a stern tone; respectful but brutishly blunt, the new co-CEO of Rolex Records (along with fellow former Aftermath Entertainment signee Stat Quo) spoke with the same seething need to fight fire with fire during his latest sure-to-be headline making conversation with HipHopDX that he does in almost all of his ire-filled interviews. Slightly more managed during his discussion with DX than some of his more recent 40 Glocc mocking, Shyne mimicking media excursions, but still simmering with audible detest for the faceless folks commenting on his latest video or about the tawdry tone of some of the selections on his just-released fifth album, (the religious verbiage filled, but strangely still largely religion-less), Jesus Piece, Game remained unrepentantly unflinching. As always, he is honest, sincere and impassioned, but for better or worse still stubbornly lost as to the value of indifference.
HipHopDX: I just wanna start off by noting that “Ali Bomaye” track is fuckin’ nuts. You’re neck-and-neck right now with Big Boi’s “In The A” for workout track of the year.
Game: Yeah, I appreciate it, man. “Ali Bomaye,” it’s a good track, and having the homie [Rick] Ross and 2 Chainz on there just made it that much more classic. I appreciate all the love that y’all giving me on that, and just all the love that y’all give me in general; y’all always been way, way too supportive in the past.
Game Discusses Religious Background & Controversies Of Jesus Piece
DX: No problem. Now, enough with the pleasantries, let’s shift into the official grilling. [Laughs] First, I just want you to respond to one of HipHopDX’s commenters to the posting of your “Holy Water” video on the site; poster “Fresh,” who wrote simply, “This is blasphemy, yo.”
Game: I mean, that’s probably coming from a nigga who probably don’t even go to church or don’t read The Bible, so … In fact, if he even spelled blasphemy right I’ll give him $5. But, other than that, I ain’t got time to be stopping for nobody that – Now if it came from the Pope, I might take [that criticism to heart], but I ain’t worried about nobody whose faith probably ain’t even restored in themselves.
DX: Can the kind of materialism and misogyny in “Holy Water” really gel with your newfound faith though? Can a recently baptized Christian such as yourself succeed at trying to live a Christ-like life while still indulging in earthly pleasures such as the strip club, like you do in the “I Remember” video?
Game: You can do whatever you want. You wake up, you brush your teeth and wash you face on your own; I don’t see why you can’t be religious and still do the things that make you happy in your everyday life.
That’s just who I am. I’m not afraid of anything that I say or do, and I’m never gonna back down, and I don’t live with regret. So, if I do it, I do it, I’ve done it, and I’ll do it again; it’s just who I am.
DX: Just out of curiosity, has anyone from your church, City of Refuge, said anything to you yet about the Jesus Piece artwork or the content of the joints from the album that have surfaced so far?
Game: People actually like the concept. And I think that more so than them thinking it’s negative, it’s me bringing Hip Hop culture in touch a little bit more with Jesus themselves. Just by mentioning it, I got more people saying “Jesus” and “Jesus piece” in Hip Hop than ever before. So, I’m doing my duty as an individual.
DX: Now, on the Gospel-infused, Jake One produced gem, “Hallelujah,” you break down the hypocrisy that exists in not only your own thinking but in the thoughts and actions of your fellow congregation members, up to and including the pastor. You said something at the end of your first verse that caught my attention: “I wanna live righteous and you know I love Jesus/But you can’t catch the Holy Ghost in a Prius.” Why not; why can’t you catch the Holy Ghost in a modestly priced hybrid car?
Game: That was kind of a metaphor. Number one, a Prius is an economy car, and if you’re in what we call a “Holy Ghost,” that’s of course a Rolls Royce, the “Ghost,” right? So that was one metaphor: if you’re in a Prius you definitely ain’t catching me in this Ghost that I got. And, again, being in a Prius, it’s a small car so you can’t really catch [the “Ghost”], ya dig?
If I say it, it’s gonna have some meaning, man.
DX: Yeah, I didn’t catch that at first. Do you subscribe to Prosperity Theology though; the doctrine that says financial blessing comes to those that are faithful?
Game: I just believe in Jesus, man. And I understand the process of donating and offerings and tithes and all of that, and I’m down with it. Whenever I can give, or whenever I can remember to pack my pocket full of cash, I’m gonna put it in the collection plate or in the envelope and send it on its way. At the end of the day, whether it does anything or not, it makes me feel good. And of course the church don’t charge anybody for membership or charge anybody to get in, but at the same time the lights gotta be kept on and there’s programs for kids and the choir and all of that stuff gotta be paid for. So I’m just doing my part.
DX: Keeping it all the way one hundred with the HipHopDX readership; did you honestly set out to document a religious awakening with this album?
Game: You know what it was, man? It was more about me trying to find my own balance in life, with religion and the streets and family and music. And so, that’s just all it is. But, it’s not like a Pastor Ma$e album or a Christian album or nothing like that; it’s just Hip Hop. And as I’m on my journey to becoming a better person overall – a better Rap artist, better father, better family member, better friend – I just wanna carry people with me and try one by one to infuse their minds with more positive thoughts than negative.
DX: Do you think Game supporters would embrace you getting your Lecrae on for a whole album? Or is “Hallelujah” as far as you feel you can go?
Game: I wouldn’t even call it [“getting my Lecrae on].” Lecrae texted me the other day out of the blue – I don’t even know where he got my number from. I know of him, just never met him. And, he was sort of concerned with the way that some of the lyrics were coming across, and the portrayal of Jesus on the cover. But, after we finished having an in-depth text conversation; I explained my vision and what I was doing, and at the end of the text we didn’t necessarily agree but I told him good luck on his path and he wished me good luck on mine.
DX: Well, I’m glad you kept some of the less sanctified stuff on the album, like “Celebration.” The remix of that joint shoulda been included as a bonus track in my opinion so everyone would be sure to hear Krayzie Bone remind folks that he ain’t lost a step. What was it like getting murdered on your own remix track like that? [Laughs]
Game: Oh man, that’s [Bone Thugs-N-Harmony], and if it wasn’t no me on that it wouldn’t be no them, so … It was dope, man. I really am a huge fan and supporter of Bone Thugs-B-Harmony. Number one, they’re the biggest four or five member group of all time in Hip Hop. And selling albums too; over 20 million sold with them. Not only that, they’re good guys, and they can Rap, and the whole Compton/Eazy-E [connection] and all of that. So, I’m just proud that I can be able to be a part of keeping the Bone legacy alive.
DX: You were in a ’95 state of mind a bit on the new album, first sampling “1st Of The Month” for “Celebration” and then D’Angelo’s “Lady” for “All That.” You don’t got like a joint with you rocking over a flip of Das Efx’s “Real Hip Hop” with Adina Howard on the chorus in the stash do you? [Laughs]
Game: Nah man, I ain’t got none of that. But, if I think it, it’s gonna come to life. And that’s just pretty much what happened with those two tracks. Those are two tracks that were big when they were out in that time, and I was a fan of ‘em. One Rap, one R&B. It was dope that I got a chance to sample ‘em, and even for them to be cleared. So shout-out to Raphael Saadiq and D’Angelo, and of course Tomica Wright and Ruthless [Records] for clearing the Bone shit.
I’m appreciative, man. I just wanna rap and make good music and take care of my family and please my fans. That’s all I’m concerned with these days.
DX: I don’t know how I came across this information, but I thought you might be interested to know one of the shining stars of 1995, and fellow South Central native, Montell Jordan, is a born again Christian now.
Game: Yeah, congratulations to Montell Jordan and his whole quest. I’m probably not as far as he is or nothing like that; I just go to church for the Word, man. I’m not like holier-than-thou, or about to become an ordained minister. I still smoke chronic on the daily, walk in the strip clubs if I can catch one. That’s just who I am. But I still make sure that I go hear the pastor speak and get the Word. ‘Cause it just helps cleanse my mind, and helps me out [with] my daily balance.
DX: I just gotta ask, I mean, do you think in hindsight that maybe following out this concept album, that it may confuse people that think that you are going down a road that like you said – ?
Game: I’m not worried about what people are confused about. I’m just here to make the music that I wanna make. And I got fans that’ll appreciate it no matter what it is. And, if they get confused, then be forever fuckin’ confused. I don’t really give like two fucks about it that much. Like, I’m not into trying to change everybody’s view or opinions or minds about everything; I’m just here to make music, take care of my family, please my fans. And if you got fans out there that aren’t pleased, fuck ‘em. I ain’t got time for that shit.
Game Supports Frank Ocean’s Coming Out
DX: Switching gears here, into the unfortunately more salacious part of our Q&A, you know I gotta ask you about your Frank Ocean line on “Freedom.” What motivated you to declare that “Frank Ocean more of a man than you niggas, get up off that gay shit”?
Game: Number one is that Frank Ocean came out and said he was gay, which was a big feat for him and it took a really strong individual to do that, especially in the position that he is in. And being a celebrity and with all the backlash that we get for small things, that was something that was like David taking down Goliath. So, I was saying that even Frank Ocean doing that is more of a man than niggas who aren’t a part of the gay community, who just act like bitches on a daily basis. So it was more so giving Frank props for being strong, and just using that situation to compare it to muthafuckas who act like girls in this industry.
DX: Now, I wish we could just have an undiluted music discussion, but I had to ask you about that quote to ensure this piece has an eye-grabbing headline that even muthafuckas who hate Game will click on.
Game: Of course.
DX: It’s the name of the online publishing biz these days to drive traffic, which you seem to understand maybe better than any other emcee out there.
Game: You know I got it, all day.
DX: So let me once again be forthright and just ask you straight-up if you say some of the stuff you do in the booth and in interviews for the sole purpose of keeping those tantalizing Game headlines coming?
Game: Everybody always thinks that there’s a method to my madness and I got all these super-explanations and reasons for [what I say and do], but some things just happen the way that they happen. When it comes to like scrutiny and just being picked apart, and fans having differences with my words or my actions, I don’t really get into that. I don’t have any explanation for most of the shit I do.
I just do it, like you did when you woke up, except you’re not a celebrity so you don’t have to explain it to anybody, or you’re not expected to explain it. But, I just do what everybody else does, man. We all out here living; you put on the shoes you wanna put on, you make love to the woman you wanna make love to, you tell your kids to do or don’t do things – and your kids even have their own individuality. So that’s just how it is, man. It’s just the human cycle of everyday life is what I’m living out here.
DX: You mentioned your kids; it’s none of my business about your kids but I just felt curious to ask, do you have in hindsight any regrets about letting the cameras in from VH1 to film your kids?
Game: Not at all. My kids aren’t displayed in any negative light. They actually had a real fun time. They’re really cute and adorable, once I watched a few shows. And, they’re doing good; they’re loving it, their newfound celebrity. [Laughs] They’ve got Instagram’s; all three of ‘em. And they think it’s cool. So I don’t have any regrets. I think that I’ve always done a good job of opening my life and displaying my love for my children. You’ve seen ‘em on album covers and pictures. Even before Instagram and all that came out, I was making sure my kids played a vital role in the motivation or to fuel my fire as far as the early stages of my career is concerned. So I don’t have any regrets, man. My kids are in good straits; they love it, they have fun, and my family’s all for it and I’m happy.
Game Explains Possible Reconciliation With 50 Cent
DX: Now, you know I gotta swing back to some of the other headlines you’ve been making of late. I mean, I don’t even know the question to ask after eight years; I just say the name 50 Cent and it’s like … I don’t even know what the question is at this point.
Game: You know what the question is, number one it’s will we ever reconcile? Who knows. I think 50 [Cent’s] got a bigger ego than me. I never hold grudges. I was over that beef pretty much right after it happened; I just kept it going because I could rap and it was pissing me off, and so I did that. But, peace to him on his journey and his endeavors; what he’s doing and everything.
And, as far as some of the other things, the 40 Glocc or the 211 [situations], I don’t really have security so I’m always running into these cats that wanna test me, and one by one they learn a valuable lesson. Like I said, again, I don’t wake up and brush my teeth and walk outside the door looking for trouble or drama, trying to start a fight. I mostly end up defending myself, like I did against G-Unit, like I did with 40 [Glocc] calling me out and calling my kids out and saying when he see me he was gonna do this and that. So, you know, these people gotta be exposed sometimes, man.
What people don’t realize or don’t see or don’t hear about is the eight, nine out of 10 times that I walk away from situations where I could really impose harm on somebody trying to pose a threat to me. So, I mean, it is what it is. Man, I’m out here and I’m living; I ain’t no different than you, bruh, or nobody else.
DX: Now, “Blood Of Christ,” I think it’s like a bonus track on the album if I’m not mistaken. And, it’s pretty intense; beyond even just a diss track, or whatever you wanna label it, it’s a dope-ass song. But I just have to ask – Like you just talked about, walking away from fights; why can’t you just take the Jay-Z route of devaluing your detractors by not addressing them?
Game: ‘Cause I’m not Jay-Z, simple. And why won’t Jay-Z take the Game route? Ask him that. It’s just, he’s an individual, I’m an individual; we’re two totally different guys. The only thing we might have in common is maybe being Sagittarius’; I think he’s one. But, I just say what I wanna say, man. And, if I gotta pay for it later, then I will. I understand what I’m doing when I make these songs and when I say these words, and any repercussion I’m 100% ready for.
“Blood Of Christ” is a dope song. I got really drunk one night in the studio and just – a drunk mouth is a sober mind and that’s what came out.
DX: I just skimmed through the recent interview you gave to Vibe about why you believe Jay respects you as a lyricist, and how you believe he responds to you subliminally to kind of show that respect. But I gotta ask; why is it still so important to you to address somebody who doesn’t seem to be addressing you – either in a more flattering way, or as “Uncle Otis”?
Game: ‘Cause this is Hip Hop. And it’s similar to anything where you have more than one person trying to be number one. You’ve got Usain Bolt running races at world class speed and winning all these races. And you got guys under him that may just wanna compete; it ain’t about really tripping him in a race, sticking your foot out and making him fall, it’s about training and really coming at him and dethroning him and being the fastest man on the earth – or the best rapper on the earth. If Jay-Z is Usain Bolt, then I’m the next guy in line. Or at least I feel in my heart I wanna challenge that; you wanna challenge that throne.
So it ain’t nothing but competition. With me and Jay, it was never personal; it was just me seeing a guy that was really great that I was a fan of, and now I exist in Hip Hop with him and I wanna take a shot. I wanna see what it do and see if he’ll respond. Three or four times he has responded. And, it didn’t matter to what level or degree he did respond, it was just important to me that he responded; that he heard me and that it was dope. ‘Cause I remember listening to Jay-Z when I was just selling drugs, not even knowing how to rap at all. So to even know that Jay-Z is listening to me, and certain things are getting to him a little bit where he does have a mediocre response – or whatever response it is – is great to me.
DX: And the obvious follow up, and final question I have for you, since you’re now less than five years away, is it still gag-inducing to think about being a 38-year-old rapper [like you noted on “One Blood”]?
Game: You know what? Five years is a long time; five years ago from now I just had my second album out, so we’ll see what happens in five years. I’ll just wait five years for you to ask me that same question when I turn 38. We’ll see. But that’s a very long time from now.