Photo courtesy of Interscope
It's been over a year since we've seen Jayceon Taylor on covers of magazines with a gun to his head, and crying on YouTube videos about hip-hop of the past. He'll be the first to admit his life is an emotional roller-coaster, but nowadays The Game seems more content than usual.
And maybe he has good reason to be. He's back working with Dr. Dre and says his forthcoming LP The R.E.D Album (due out February 16) is his favorite since The Documentary. He's even feeling relieved that Jay-Z never responded to his sideways comments he made in his last Complex interview. Yesterday, we reconnected with Game to get his take on 50 baiting Jay into a battle, the new album, young rappers like Drake, and why Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine wants to reunite the hip-hop Beatles. It was Game on as usual...
Interview by Joe La Puma
Complex: Starting off, talk about the reasoning behind naming your new joint The R.E.D. Album.
Game: R.E.D is simply rededicated. That's what R.E.D is, the r-e-d in red for me. And rededicated to what? My family, my craft, which is hip-hop, my fans, which are world wide, my children, my hood, my city, and what got me here—which is the color. I think that before I came out there was no red. There was Snoop, everybody was Crip walking. I came in, I took the color on as a whole. People just adapted to who I am and where I come from. I mean now, even Crips wear red.
Complex: How do you feel about other rappers who claim Blood and shout "Soo-Woo"?
Game: I mean, look what I did to Jim Jones, and look at Weezy, and look at Gucci Mane. I feel like I did that. It's a free country. People can do whatever they want to do and if anything they're just making me bigger and my legacy and where I come from and what I represent bigger.
Complex: I know Gucci Mane is on the album. What other collaborations can we expect?
Game: I got Rick Ross. I got Beanie Sigel, I got Jeezy. I finally did a song with Jeezy that's fuckin' crazy too. For the most part it's me, with a couple of features from people I haven't worked with yet—I always try to work with new people every album. But it's people that I respect and that are also poppin' in the world and that other people want to hear.
Complex: I read somewhere that there's going to be some production by RZA. Is that true?
Game: RZA gave me a beat, which I am so fuckin' ecstatic about. I appreciate it because he doesn't make beats anymore. RZA gets paid millions of dollars now to score movies, big fuckin' movies. So, for him to come in my studio and for him to say "Yo Game, I brought this beat to you and just listen to it and just tell me if you like it..." So I listened to it and I was so crazy about it. I called him and he was like, "Yo, you could have that beat." That's all it was and I ain't talk to RZA since, shit [Laughs].
Complex: So Jay-Z did The Black Album, The Beatles did The White Album. How does The R.E.D. Album stack up against those masterpieces?
Game: I just would consider this my best effort since The Documentary. My favorite would be the Doctor's Advocate, but The Documentary is my first album. It is to the people what Illmatic was to the people, what Ready to Die was, what Reasonable Doubt was, Straight Out of Compton, and all those albums. It's the first album, so I kind of think that people are biased to say that it's classic. But The R.E.D. Album is as dope as The Documentary was. There's no controversy in my way. There's nobody telling me to rap like this or anything, I'm just dead me on this album. I did it by myself, with the help of Dr. Dre this time and that was a breath of fresh air and relieved a lot of my stress and tension. It's always easier when you're rolling with that mastermind, man.
Complex: So working with Dre again, it seemed to piss 50 off a little bit...
Game: That made 50 mad, man.
Complex: Do you think it was a jealousy thing?
Game: 50's just bitter, man. For what reason? I don't know. He doesn't have to be. Me and his beef is old at this point. It's pure comedy for me at this point. When he says something, I laugh. If I shoot a shot back it's just a joke at this point. Nobody is going to kill each other. Nobody is gonna beat each other's ass. I'm not gonna do none of that. So we might as well get along. We exist in hip-hop. You know with opening arms he can re-join my band of brothers. Just say sorry and you want to make music. He'll never be as big as he was and he'll never be able to put out an album that people will be waiting for and anticipate as much without me, period. And I ain't saying that he needs me, but me and him made the best records together. I understand it, he needs to understand it, and maybe one day we'll record. He said recently in an interview that he'll never work with Game again but that's all him talking and his ego. I can't wait to mend the ties with Eminem. Me and Eminem had never been at odds but he had to take 50's side. That's his artist and his homie and what not, and I understood it but I'd love to get back with Eminem and work again and sort of restructure the Voltron if you will.
Complex: Even though he says he won't work with you, it seems like right now you're telling me you'd definitely work with 50 again...
Game: 'Cause I don't hold grudges. Like, it's hip-hop, man. We're not fuckin' WWF wrestlers, we're not boxers man, it's just hip-hop. It's just make music or don't make music. It's not a gang war, like he's not a Crip and I'm a Blood, and this ain't fuckin' '85, and I'm not gonna ride through his hood and do a drive by, like it's not that serious, bruh. It's just hip-hop and I think that he's more bitter towards me then anyone else he's had drama with because look what I did to his brand. I killed G-Unit. I killed the clothes, I killed the brand, I killed Tony Ya-Yo, Banks, and Buck at that time. Like I really fucked up a lot of money for that dude. Not only for him but my label, Jimmy Iovine, who at this point, I'm apologetic to.
Complex: Is the label situation cool now?
Game: I've mended the wounds at Interscope. You know I went against my own label and I came out the smoke with my hands held high and my head, man. So I mean, I don't know what 50's problem is but I'm here. Whenever he wants to call me on the phone and talk about it, squash it or we can keep on going with this fucking child- like antics. He can do it, I can do it and we can do it 'til we fuckin' die, it makes me no difference, man.
Game: If he ever wants to do something of catastrophic proportion, then we could. If we said tomorrow Game and 50 are coming out with an album, you know how many motherfuckin' antennas would go up? We could still sell a million records just off promoting it alone. I mean, I understand the business aspect of it. I understand that you know, he's got a big ego. I'm just not one with it, I don't have one. I forgive and forget and that's life. One day you're alive and the next day you die. So why spend it bitter and mad at the fuckin' world, man? I don't understand it.
Complex: 50's been baiting Jay-Z recently. As someone who's had issues with both of them, how do you feel about him going after Jay?
Game: Oh yeah, I already did that Jay-Z thing. 50's just doing what I'm doing. Nobody went at Jay, I went at Jay. Now everybody wants to get at Jay, not saying anything about Beanie Sigel, that's personal and I stay out of that. He's just a man and he's got all the right in the world, but I feel like I did something that people have been wanting to do, but everybody is scared because Jay-Z is so lyrically inclined to cut your throat and your career in half that nobody wanted to do it. But me? I just don't give a fuck sometimes.
Complex: What do you think that the result of that battle would be?
Game: Jay-Z will fuck 50 up in a battle! It would be so fast and over with. 50 is funny, but Jay is witty. Jay-Z is not to be toyed with. If he fuckin' responds, if he feels like you're really pissing him off and he responds, he's gonna fuck you up! He would fuck me up, I'm just glad he didn't fuckin' respond, so I didn't have to go dig in my fuckin' bag and try to fuck him up. I definitely think that Jay-Z didn't come at me like he came at any other rappers because I definitely would have been more disrespectful and once you start a beef with me you better be ready to go the whole motherfuckin' 12 rounds because I will try to chew your fuckin' ear off like Mike Tyson. I'll do it and I think he knew that—I'm disrespectful. So Jay, he did the right thing and just kinda let it die down and I let it die down 'cause it wasn't anything really. It was fuckin' fun and I really admire Jay's career. I just really don't care too much for the man himself.
Complex: Now, I saw on your Twitter that you were talking to Shyne recently.
Game: Yeah, I talked to him for about an hour. Just about his well being and both of our next moves. What I thought he should do and he listened and held me on my thoughts and he gave me a lot of insight on my career and what he thought of my career from the several years while he's been locked down. He's the reason why I'm not ready to jump into beefs and controversy today because he kind of shed light on some different situations and it gave me a different perspective. Which is one that I respect being that he's been behind those bars. So we just chopped it up about life and issues and each other, man.
Complex: Last year we saw you on the cover of The Source with a gun to your head and you were saying some days are good, some days are bad. What is your mind frame like today?
Game: I'm in such a fuckin' good mood man, you could damn near run in my front yard and blow up my car and I would just smile at you. I might fuckin' shoot you with a sling-shot or something, but I'm definitely less drama filled and I'm just having a good time with my music and my life. I've been going out a couple of nights with my boys and drinkin' and hangin' and chillin' and I'm just having fun. You know, the other night I was in a club out here with a couple of billionaire homies and we bought some Ace of Spades and joked about Jay-Z, but at least we contributed 17 grand. It costs 17 grand in the club and five grand on the fuckin' street. We bought it and just balled out man. In the name of Jay-Z, H-O-V, R-O-C, ya heard? [Laughs]
Complex: [Laughs] I noticed that you Twitter a lot. What rap blogs do you read?
Game: Rap blogs? None. Man I don't fuckin' buy XXL anymore, unless I see them around in the studio anymore, [but] I won't pick them up. I'm so lost, like people were telling me, "Yo, you gotta hear this new kid, J. Cole." Like people had to force feed me Drake, I never even heard him until a while after he started blowing up and then I became a fan. But I'm so out of the fuckin' loop. Like I got my Biggie greatest hits, my Makavelli, my fuckin' EPMD albums in every car. So I don't know what's going on currently in hip-hop, unless it pertains to me and my career directly.
Complex: There's not a young rapper who really impressed you?
Game: Oh, Drake's the man! Drake is fuckin' phenomenal. I like Drake, he's dope as fuck. Lyrically that dude, the shit he says and where he gets it from is crazy. Drake is dope. I haven't heard a bad song yet.
Complex: So going back to the label situation, it seems like everything is smooth with Interscope?
Game: Everything that happened in my career was nobody's fault but mine. They run a business and I went against that business and, I paid for it. With the loss of the group aspect. Jimmy Iovine likes to say, "Thanks for breaking up the Beatles, Game. Thank you."
Complex: And he's referring to you...
Game: John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I'm John Lennon and 50 is Paul McCartney and Jimmy always says, "Thanks for breaking up the Beatles, man, you guys are worth more together. So I don't know what the fuck you guys are doing. Whenever you guys want to fuckin' get your heads out your asses. Come sit down and take a meeting, make some money, we can talk. Until then, just keep the shit out of my office." That's Jimmy Iovine for you, man.