2015 has been a banner year for hip-hop that very few people probably saw coming back in January. With new projects from Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Future, and so many more to name, it is hard to remember all of the great albums that dropped this year. One of those, or actually two in reality, is the Game's Documentary 2 and 2.5, which as he said himself, is just a double album.
Leading up to the release, there were plenty of questions about the Game's direction with this project and little hope that it could live up to his 2005 classic debut. There were delays, beefs, and just about everything in between that led fans to believe that this sequel was going to disgrace the legacy that the first album established. Through all of that doubt though, the Game came through with not one but two solid albums, adding to the legacy of one of the greatest years in hip-hop history.
A large part of the albums coming out the way it did was the extensive work by a producer by the name of Bongo. If you were like me, you looked at the official credits for the album and kept noticing Bongo's name as the lead producer on banger after banger, from "On Me" with Kendrick to "Dedicated" with Future.
There's little information about him online—he currently has fewer than 1,400 followers on Twitter—and that might be by design. To further understand Bongo and how he played such a big and unexpected role on this album, I reached out and spoke with him about the experience.
Bongo, who was born in Nigeria, revealed that he went to college in Florida after growing up in Rhode Island. He graduated from North Florida University in Jacksonville with a degree in psychology before ultimately deciding to pursue his dream of working in the music industry. Though his work with the Game is probably his most extensive thus far, his catalog is already impressive, as it includes work with Musiq Soulchild, Big Sean, and Lecrae.
His roots date back to the production duo L&F (Lost and Found), with his cousin C4, though they've since broken off to focus on solo projects. For Bongo, the risk paid off and eventually led him to the Game's studio via Marcus Black, who is also featured on the album. Bongo said that the real work with the Game dates back to March, and that they clicked in the studio almost from the jump. "Since March, we've done a lot of recording, probably over, like easily over 100 songs. Probably more. I'm probably underestimating," Bongo said.
While Bongo is officially credited on 10 songs from the two albums, he also said that he played an even larger role in the framing of the project. "Everything just happened organically. It wasn't like I was just sending beats," he said. "I was in the studio the whole time, and the reason he said I did like 85 percent of the record, because like even on other people's tracks, like on the Alchemist track, there's like chords being played on top, there's a different hook." Specifically on the Alchemist song "Like Father Like Son 2," Bongo revealed that he brought in parts of the original Documentary track as sort of a throwback and special way to pay homage to what they were doing.
It's clear that the Game and Bongo built up a high level of trust with each other in a pretty short period of time, which isn't something that you would expect given the circumstances. Still, as their relationship grew, the work yielded positive results that can be heard throughout the album. Like most, Bongo said that his favorite song from the album was "On Me" with Kendrick because it is so unconventional. He even went as far to call the song a "dream come true" because it gave him vibes from his childhood when he would listen to Common and Erykah Badu.
That unique taste is part of the reason why Bongo had no worries about diving into a predominately West Coast album, even though he's not from the region. "This is just one facet of my talent. I have so much music, and I'm influenced by so many different things," he said. "Like, I'm a huge Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder fan, so I have music that is inspired by them. I have R&B, I have pop, it's not a matter [of] if I'm able to do it but what the situation calls for."
While things will most certainly change for Bongo going forward, he said that he's still trying to do what he's always done: work hard. Through his work with the Game and others, doors are opening, and he revealed that he's recently been in the studio with Jeremih, Omarion, Ty Dolla $ign, and more. "[The album] gave me a platform, and now I can use that platform and relationships to move forward," he said.
Aside from the high praise from the fans, Bongo has also been getting some love from legends in the game, most notably Dr. Dre. Shortly after the album officially dropped, Bongo posted a video of Dre congratulating him on the success of the project. "Bongo did his fucking thing," Dre said. Bongo said the love went even further, with Dre telling him that he's the next dude on the production side. "That's just so humbling, but at the same time, it lit a fire under me," Bongo said of Dre's encouragement.
Going forward, Bongo has big dreams that expand way beyond just the rap game. "What I want to do is...I want to touch on every genre. I don't want to just be a hip-hop producer," he said. "Hip-hop is like all my love because it's what I grew up listening to and what I gravitate to, but I do so much. I don't want to be just a hip-hop producer. I wanna do work with Christina Aguilera. I wanna do work with Taylor Swift. As long as I can make fans, keep expanding myself, and making great music, that's what I want to do." With all of his recent success, you'd be a fool to tell Bongo that he can't do any of that.