“I had to reach out for Drake and Lloyd,” he continues.
“I already had Chris Brown, but the song he’s on is more inspirational. So it wasn’t catered toward the ladies. I had to
go back in and lighten it up a little bit.”
Now, with the right hue to his project, Game feels that R.E.D. has topped all his previous efforts. “I know there’s some people that say, ‘Game fell off.’ For all of those people, I can’t wait for you to hear this new album,” he says enthusiastically. “Dre is narrating the entire album. It’s five or six skits going through my life. It’s connected to the songs, on a time line throughout my
life, all the way into current-day Game. I asked Dre would he do that. I wrote out the script, and he did it. I cannot wait until people get a hold of this album and put it in. For me, I feel like I put everything I had into this album. It took me three years. And like I said, everything I had, I put in the album.”
For once, Game is right smack dab in the middle of a battle, and he won’t be saying one word. In fact, during this battle, Game will be all smiles, even when a fight breaks out. As part of his hosting duties with 106 & Park, he is asked to judge the show’s signature weekly event, “Freestyle Friday.” The reigning champ, Blessed, from the Bronx, is in the middle of methodically dismantling his challenger, the aptly named Go Hard Jetson, when, all of sudden, things get physical. Go Hard does exactly what his name indicates and knocks off Blessed’s fitted, then pushes him. Fed up, the week’s champ gives Jetson a “spear” football tackle that wrestler Bill Goldberg would be proud of. BET’s security immediately rushes on the set and separates the combatants. “Why do they have to do it on the day I’m hosting?” Game would later ask, on the way to his greenroom, with a half grin. “You know they gonna say somehow I started it. I didn’t have anything to do with this one.”
Game is known to have thrown a few shots of his own over the course of his career. Think back to his “G-Unot” campaign, against former boss 50 Cent and the G-Unit crew, starting in 2005, plus his smattering of darts at other MCs, such as Jay-Z and Joe Budden, over the years. In late July, he dropped a record called “Uncle Otis” in response to Kanye West and Hova’s hit “Otis,” taking yet another swipe at Jay-Z and a light, playful jab at Kanye West while also checking Kreayshawn for letting her homegirl say “nigger.”
While many in hip-hop thought Game was making a blatant plea for attention for his album, he says he was just having fun in the studio and really has no malice toward anybody he mentions in the song. Until the time comes when Game faces what he considers a worthy opponent in the studio, he says he’s very satisfied with his current place in hip-hop. He’s not the hot new kid on the block with the frenzied buzz anymore.
And he’s not the veteran sitting at the top of the rap hierarchy, either. “It was time when ’Pac and Big had died,” Game says, explaining how all artists’ roles in hip-hop eventually change. “Then Ja Rule and DMX had so many records. Then Jay took off. Then Ja Rule was the Drake at one time. Then DMX went to jail, and Ja Rule went to jail, and Jay is still in his iconic role. Me, I’m a chameleon. No matter where it goes or what it looks like or where it resurfaces, Game is always gonna be a chameleon. Hate it or love it.”
On June 21, Jimmy “Henchman” Rosemond, the man who has managed Game since 2004, was arrested by DEA agents on a number of drug-trafficking charges, after more than a month on the lam. The week before that, convicted murderer Dexter Isaac accused Henchman of hiring him, in 1994, to rob Tupac Shakur at New York’s Quad Studios. And the New York Daily News reported last year that the music exec and owner of the Czar Entertainment management company was a federal informant. It’s tough for Game to see his mentor and friend face life in prison, but the often volatile MC claims he knows he cannot let Henchman’s dire legal situation debilitate his career. “I talked to Jimmy—he’s good,” Game says. “Without going into his situation unauthorized, I say that’s my dude. Got nothing but love for him, and I support him through everything. I encourage him to keep his head high and know that I always got his back no matter what.”
Game has kept Tony Martin, formerly of Czar Entertainment, to handle the day-to-day of his career, but Game says he makes his own decisions now. “We gonna keep on pushing, man,” he says. “I think, at this point, I’m capable of holding down the fort. I’m 31, a well-polished MC. I’m smarter, as far as the music business is concerned as a whole. A force to be reckoned with in the streets still. I’ma do my thing. I’m gonna hold it down with Jimmy in mind. But the clock don’t stop for no man. It won’t.”
Game is going to have to use all his business acumen very soon. After The R.E.D. Album drops, he’ll owe Interscope just one more LP, and then he’ll be able to get his LeBron James on and explore free agency. On R.E.D.’s “The City,” he speaks of joining the Cash Money Millionaires once he fulfills his contractual obligations: “Could that be the reason that Baby said he would pay me more?/I still owe Jimmy one more album.”
“I might be taking my talents to South Beach, too,” Game says with a grin, referring to LeBron James’s infamous “decision” to play for the Miami Heat. South Beach is also the new headquarters for all things Cash Money. “We would love to have him,” the head of the YMCMB family, Baby, said when asked about the possibility of bolstering his roster with his Left Coast brother in colors. “He’s a friend of the family. He’s cool with me. My son is cool with him. We would love to have him.”
Despite being welcomed with open arms and, apparently, open bank-vault doors by Baby and Lil Wayne, Game does admit a certain loyalty to the Interscope/Geffen family. Through his wilding out over the years, it could have dropped him, but it never did. “I remember, one time, I got frustrated, and I asked [Interscope/Geffen chairman] Jimmy Iovine to drop me,” he recalls. “He said, ‘Man, you can come by my house and shoot out the windows, and I still wouldn’t drop you.’ I thought that was nuff said. It would never happen. Since then, we’ve rebuilt our relationship. I love Interscope/Geffen. They’ve been quite good to me, and I serviced them quite well over the years. I got a good relationship with my label. Me and Jimmy Iovine, me and Steve Berman, the whole hip-hop urban staff at Interscope, we 100. It ain’t never been no bad blood between me and the label. I probably made some career moves that they didn’t see suitable for the label, but we worked through it. I’m still there, putting out records.”
Grown-up decisions for a seasoned artist.
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