EXCLUSIVE – The Game raised a few eyebrows earlier this year when he announced his new album is called Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind, a title that nods to both Nas’ landmark 1994 debut and the popular Hip Hop sub-genre that’s more synonymous with Chicago, London and New York than his hometown of Compton.

But as The Game revealed in a recent interview with HipHopDX, he made sure to get the blessing of both Nas and Chicago drill star Lil Durk before settling on the name.

“Originally, I gave [the title] Drillmatic to Durk because he’s from the Chi and it has the whole drill thing,” he explained. “I text Durk like, ‘Yo, call your next album Drillmatic.’ And he was like, ‘Yo, that’s fire.’ And then two years passed and he didn’t call nothing Drillmatic so I was like, ‘I’ma reel that back in.'”

While The Game’s mid-2000s mainstream breakthrough was overseen by Dr. Dre, Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind finds him partnering with another West Coast producer, Hit-Boy, who has become Nas’ go-to collaborator in recent years. It was during an early Drillmatic session at Hit’s studio where Game bumped into the Queensbridge MC and secured his approval for his new album.

“Hit-Boy hit me on January 1 and he said, ‘Whatchu doing?’ And I was like, ‘Shit, I’m smoking.’ And he was like, ‘We should do an album,'” he recalled. “So I pulled up to his studio, we did three songs that day, three songs the next day, three songs the next day and we had nine. He’s like, ‘We need a title.’ I was like, ‘Drillmatic.’

“And then Nas was in the room the day after, on the fourth day, working on music with Hit. I ran the title by him and he blessed it, and so then I ran with it. Because I don’t want to step on no toes, especially not with people I look up to. So yeah, we got Nas’ blessing, we started to run it and then it took on a life of its own and now we’re here.”

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As the title suggests, The Game’s mission with Drillmatic is to bridge the gap between the Illmatic era of Hip Hop that raised him and the contemporary sounds of the drill wave — while adding his own flavor to the mix, of course.

“Drill is now. All these kids, it’s drill this, drill that and so I gotta get they attention because I want the new school to understand my school, we can coexist,” he explained. “Also, when you hear me on a drill beat, it’s gonna be a message in it.

“That’s why my album is called Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind, because everyday we wake up, we feel indifferent sometimes. We don’t wake up everyday feeling 100 percent. Some days I wake up and I’m happy and I love the world, and other days I wake up and I’m very angry with things that are going on. Every single day is a different challenge for every single human being on Earth.”

Naming an album after Illmatic — still widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums of all time — carries with it enormous expectations. But The Game isn’t shying away from the pressure, and believes Drillmatic will reign supreme in a year that’s already produced stellar releases from Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T, Vince Staples and others.

“We’re about to put out the best rap album in, I don’t know how many years,” he declared. “I don’t care who got an album coming out, I don’t care who dropped — nothing’s gonna be better than this album… I put my whole heart, my soul, my mind, everything that I am, I put into this album. I put more work into this album than I did on The Documentary, The Doctor’s Advocate.

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Drillmatic will not disappoint at all, not a soul. And if it does, then you just lying. You should stop listening to my shit, go look in the mirror and have a talk with yourself about your appreciation of real rap music… It’s gonna fucking blow your mind. You’ve never heard me rap like this ever in your life, and you might never again.”

Drillmatic: Heart vs. Mind is due out later this year. Watch The Game’s interview with HipHopDX below.