The Game: “I first met Kanye at this big ass party Nelly had at Niketown. After the party was over—because I was like the freestyle king around this motherfucker—they was like, ‘There’s this nigga named Kanye West. He wants to spit against you.’ I had heard of Kanye, but I didn’t know he was a rapper, I only thought he produced. So we went over to the parking structure, and here comes this kid in his tight jeans, and this fucking Nike hoodie, and these Air Maxs, and I’m like, ‘This is the dude? Right here?’ So we start fucking freestyling...when I say that if I ever lost a freestyle battle, that’s the one I lost. Because Kanye got in my ass, bitches was laughing, and shit was just fucked up and crazy man. But then we freestyled again one day on Melrose and I kind of had my shit ready for him that time. Me and Kanye we go back a long way. Anything happen to that dude, I’m breaking somebody’s face open.
“So Kanye called me and he was like, ‘Yo, you’re not going to believe this shit Game. I’ve got this crazy sample. It’s called ‘Dreams.’’ And he started talking about ‘Dreams,’ and he was talking about all these dreams that he had in his life—just crazy shit. Kanye is crazy man. But he sent it to me. And then he came out to LA, we got in, and I went in on the verses. I wrote one verse, and everybody thought it was so crazy that they pressured me to finish it. But I couldn’t finish it, because there was things that I wanted to say that just wasn’t coming to me. I had writer’s block for like two months. Then one day, I was sitting in the crib, and I don’t remember what the fuck happened. But something sparked me to go sit on the couch, put that shit in this old ass CD player. I played that shit for like four hours and then the words started coming to me. ‘Dreams’ was one of the first songs I ever recorded on Aftermath.”
Mike Lynn (A&R for Aftermath): “One day, Game stepped to us saying he was tired of sitting around and he was ready to put his album out. So we said, ‘Alright, play us the record.’ So he played us the album and we were like, ‘Man, we’re not putting this out.’ The version of the album that came out in stores; the only song that was on that album that existed when Game said he were ready to put an album out was ‘Dreams.’ Every song [on The Documentary was recorded] after ‘Dreams.’ After I played ‘Dreams’ for Dre, then Dre finally realized, ‘Okay, we can get an album out of him.’ We recorded maybe 30 songs before that, but that was the first song that made us feel like he was ready to do an album. But before that song, it was just a bunch of mixtape songs in our eyes. It wasn’t really album material. That record inspired Dre to get into the studio and start working with him. Dre hadn’t worked with him before that. That’s when he started cutting songs with Dre.
“Shortly after that we realized, ‘Okay, we’re getting strong records, but you know we need to get some singles.’ So at that time we were like, ‘Why not bring in 50 to help him with these singles?’ At that time, 50 was on fire. So that was our decision, Game never had anything to do with that. He never came to us about it or anything. That was Dre, myself, and Jimmy Iovine’s decision. Once we agreed to put him with 50, that’s when the ‘This Is How We Do It,’ and the 50 songs came about. That’s when it all started taking off from that point.”
Angelo Sanders (A&R for Aftermath): “That’s the thing with Dre: You gotta get Dre excited. He works to perfection so you can’t come to him with no bullshit. You can’t play album cuts for Dre. He wants to hear the best records you got and then the album cuts, ‘Okay, this is really personal to you we’ll find a place on that album to make this fit, but first let me hear the records.’ When he heard ‘Dreams’ he was like, ‘Wow, we got something with that.’ And that got the real fire behind it. He started playing it for Jimmy Iovine. He started playing it for 50 and everybody was like, ‘Wow, you got something.’ When you got Em and 50 and Snoop coming in for songs, it’s hard to get on the radar when you’re trying to come out [on Aftermath]. You’ve seen so many artists on Aftermath never come out because they weren’t able to get through that threshold of, ‘This is what it needs to be to come out with that Aftermath stamp.’”