This week, Game made headlines for the controversial artwork for his fifth album, Jesus Piece. Yes, the combination of religious and gang imagery is stirring, but according to the Compton MC, it's for good reason. He promises that Jesus Piece is the best album of his career.
Game recently got on the phone with Complex to talk about the album's theme, as well its featured guests, but the conversation drifted to far more than his own music. He went into detail about why he feels Nas' Life Is Good is the best release of the year, and what he thinks about the artists in L.A.'s thriving, young hip-hop scene, including man of the week, Kendrick Lamar.
Plus, what's Game's relationship like with Dr. Dre these days and what is comedian Kevin Hart doing on Jesus Piece? Those answers and more in our full dialogue below.
Interview by Ernest Baker (@newbornrodeo)
How did the new single “Celebration” come together? You have four superstars on it.
Actually, five. I consider myself a superstar as well.
[Laughs.] Four featured superstars then.
Yeah, yeah. You're trying to leave me out. I’m on you. [Laughs.] Nah, man. Look. From the early stages of my career until now I think people respect what I do—as far as my credentials is concerned, which is the music. At the end of the day, I'm a cool dude. Along the way, I kind of became friends with pretty much every artist in hip-hop. New and old. So whenever I reach out to people to do a record, it’s almost instantaneous to get it back.
I got the record. Me, SAP, and Cool & Dre produced it. I always wanted to re-do “1st of tha Month.” All of the producers over the years who've tried it, it didn’t come out too well. Dr. Dre started [a beat sampling "1st of tha Month"] a long time ago for me, right after The Documentary, but he never got around to finishing it. One day I was thinking, "Man, I just want to try it today." We tried it, and we added the dope drums to do it. We made it a little bit livelier than the original beat.
Then, I called Chris and I asked him if he could sing this hook that I thought of, which was one of Krayzie’s lines in his verse: “Celebration, I love to stay high.” And after that I sent it to Tyga and he killed it. And I sent it to Wayne, and Wayne bodied it. And I did my verse, and the song was done. But I was recording with Wiz, and Wiz was like, "Yo, let me hear your single." So I play him “Celebration” and Wiz went crazy. He was like, "Yo, I need to get on this, man." So I’m like, "There ain’t no room." He was like, "Man, I’m about to make room." So he took four bars and he did his thing. So that was dope.
On Jesus Piece, you have a song featuring and produced by Kanye West. You have a song with Young Jeezy and Future. You have a song with Master P produced by Premier. What can we expect when this music finally comes out?
I like the fact that everything is sort of floating around. I just come out the mouth with all things I can give you without blowing the lid on the handle. Number one, the best album out to me is Nas’ Life Is Good. I’m still going through Cruel Summer and feeling it out. I’m only three tracks in, like really putting my ear to it. So I’ll get through that and put it up against Life Is Good and we’ll see what it does, but I think Jesus Piecewill be the best album of the year.
I got people like Trey Songz and DJ Premier and Lil Wayne and John Legend and Meek Mill and Rick Ross and 2 Chainz on the album.
It’s a hidden concept on this album. It’s a conceptual album that falls exactly under the name. Everybody from DJ Premier to Kanye West to Cool & Dre to DJ Khalil, we got a bunch of dope producers that have been doing it for years. And then we got a bunch of new guys like SAP who produced “Celebration” with Cool & Dre. And K. Roosevelt that was under Hit-Boy. And then Hit-Boy. The beats are there. I’ve always been the one to have a good ear for the beats.
The album is simply like this, man. We wear Jesus pieces, right? We be rocking Jesus pieces. We be iced out. We don’t necessarily have a relationship with Jesus. I don’t even know if people wear Jesus pieces really believe in Jesus all the time. I just think that it’s become a trend in hip-hop and that’s what we do. I got into that and breaking that down and saying, "How you going to spend $50,000 on a Jesus piece but you won’t go to church and put $100 and paid your ties?” What are we doing out here?
I got songs on there that talk about my experience when I'm in church. I go to church. I believe in God. I believe in Christ. I sit there. I take in the sermon. I got a Bible with my name on it that my girl got me a long time ago. I got another one that my grandma got me a long time ago and I don’t necessarily read it every day. I take it to church with me but I be sitting there looking around thinking like, "Man, half of these people don’t know better than me."
I smoke weed. I drink. I go to strip clubs. I have fun in my life but I still believe in God. So basically, in church, it's a bunch of hypocrites sometimes and people there sinning just as much as people outside the church. It’s about that.
I got songs on there that’s about true belief. Like, real Christians. I put that up against people that are really in the street that might have more faith and believe in God a little bit more than people in church. It’s just a big old pot of concepts, man. What’s dope about is I got people like Trey Songz and DJ Premier and Lil Wayne and John Legend and Meek Mill and Rick Ross and 2 Chainz playing these roles on the album.
Then I got this Kevin Hart skit. I got Kevin Hart to come to the studio and do a bunch of skits, just being himself, [talking] about his own experiences growing up with church. Battling how to do the right thing and the wrong thing and his beliefs. Every time you bring up Jesus, there’s always going to be some type of debate because we all have different beliefs. Bible stories, scripture, life, living, all of that. That’s what the album is about. The concept is crazy. I think you would love it.
The Jesus Piece album, it’s my best work lyrically since Doctor’s Advocate, which is the best album of my career. Everybody says The Documentary, but I think The Documentary was titled such a classic because that was my first album.
Yeah, we put it on our list of the most anticipated albums for the rest of the year. We have high expectations for it. I hope it lives up to them.
The Jesus Piece album, it’s my best work lyrically since Doctor’s Advocate, which is the best album of my career. Everybody says The Documentary, but I think The Documentary was titled such a classic because that was my first album. As was Illmatic to Nas or Reasonable Doubt to Jay-Z or Ready to Die to Biggie, but still, Life After Death was the shit for Big. I actually like Life After Death more than Ready to Die.
It’s like that with It Was Written and Illmatic. Illmatic is a whole different conversation, but It Was Written was still underrated because of the legend that surrounded his debut. I feel like it’s kind of the same with you.
Exactly. I think Jesus Piece takes the cake from all five of my albums. I’m not going to get into an argument with my fans. They are probably listening and saying, "Nah, man. You crazy. The Documentary—" I’m not going to do all that. I’ve invested so much of my talent and so much of my resources and my hip-hop friends and producers and guitarists and pianists. I got dudes who play trumpet in the studio every night. We creating these beats and that magic to make it real. And lyrically, right now, I am in a whole another arena. I am killing shit lyrically.
I wouldn’t toot my horn. Everybody know that I can rap. I’ve been around. This my fifth album. This Jesus Piece album is going to be the best album of the year. I can guarantee it.
You're such a fan of the rap shit. You're like one of us.
I think the reason I'm able to get these features and then, give such great interviews and relate to artists such as yourself, writers, is because I’m just a regular, chill dude. I be chilling, man.
I don’t wear chains unless I’m on stage and that’s not every time. I don’t match my hat with my shoes. I’m not a rapper, dude. I’m just a human being with a cool craft that appreciates even being in hip-hop this long. Everybody doesn’t get a chance to have even two albums. I’m on my fifth one just blessed and humbled and cool and chill.
I think what people get misconstrued about me is that, at the end of the day I’m a real nigga. So if a problem comes up, I’m gonna have to fight or you might see Game acting a fool. I get mad like everybody else. I’m not a buster. I ain’t a punk. I’m a real nigga. But on the same accord, I’m the coolest guy on the fucking Earth, which is why you made the statement you made.
As far as music is concerned and hip-hop, I’m a fan of everybody. I listen to everything. I watch. I really listen, from A$AP Rocky to Kool G Rap. Nigga, that’s how far, that’s how deep my hip-hop love goes in the music. I’m just happy to be able to put an album out for the fifth time in seven years. This is way cool, man. I’m glad that the album is even crazy.
I would be happy to put out a wack ass album out. But to put a classic album out in this day and age where everybody is skipping through classics day and not really taking the time to format albums. You get niggas a radio single or some shit on iTunes. They shit playing on the radio. You buy the album and the album is trash. Let’s keep it 100.
Did that happen to you recently? Was there anything you were excited about because the single was hot and the album disappointed you?
Yeah, that happened recently. I won’t say no names. That’s gonna start something and gonna have me doing 600 bars on a nigga.
I’m listening to Life Is Good because that’s the most current, dope album to me.
[Laughs.] Oh, man.
But it’s all good, man. I’m just basically in my car every day and I’m listening to one thing. I’m listening to Life Is Good because that’s the most current, dope album to me so I'm just listening to that. I just downloaded Cruel Summer so I’m still trying to go to the studio every night and find myself alert and aware and awake enough on the way home to get it in because that’s the only time I’m in the car. I like to listen to my albums in the car. I can’t find that zone anywhere else.
Why do you say Jesus Piece is on a different level lyrically? What are you doing, technically, that’s better?
I mean, I’m rapping my ass off, man. I got like every style you could appreciate in hip-hop today. I channel those styles. I’m just in my motherfucking lyric bag. You’ll see. By the time you get to number four on the CD, you already know what you're dealing with. By track number four you're going to know that my album is killing everything out. Period.