There was a three-year window between Game’s third album, L.A.X., and his follow up, The Red Album, before the latter finally dropped last August. There will be no such delays this time around, though. The anticipation for his fifth project—which he recently renamed Jesus Piece—is already starting to mount, thanks in part to the single “Celebration,” which features Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Tyga and Chris Brown, and jumped to No. 27 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart last week. Here, the Los Angeles native talks about the success of the single, why he changed the title to his album, getting the biggest names in the game to re-record tracks, and his hopes for the Lakers this season. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)
Let’s talk about the single. “Celebration” has been doing well since you dropped it.
“Celebration” is out there doing wonders for me, man. I appreciate when good music has that effect; it’s always dope. When I first recorded it, I already knew what it was gonna be. Sometimes you just get that feeling when you know it’s gonna be a smash—well, you know, but you never know until it actually gets out and starts to produce. Once I put it out and everybody started going crazy for it, then I knew I had something.
And you worked with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on the remix, right?
That’s already in the can. Bone Thugs jumped on the remix. I can’t put it out now ’cause “Celebration” won’t slow down. Once it does, then I’ll throw that remix on the ’net. I’m pretty sure people are gonna appreciate it—I had all five Bone members in the studio and they merked it as only Bone would do.
That’s a good problem.
It is. And I got a street single to throw out, but I can’t throw these records out, ’cause “Celebration” is doing damage, so I don’t wanna contaminate the field by oversaturating it with new music.
For the album, you’re still aiming for December?
That’s what the label says. I don’t like to get into exact dates, ’cause they get pushed. It’s a matter of label, timing, and music. When it all aligns, then the album is definitely gonna come out. December 4 is a good date and hopefully we’re able to stick to that.
You recently changed the title from F.I.V.E. to Jesus Piece. What was the thinking behind that?
Trey Songz came out with Chapter V, so I don’t wanna come out and it’s gonna seem like I’m biting. So I called Trey like, “Man, you stole my album title.” We laughed it off. I was able to get him on the album in exchange for him jumping out with that title, which is all cool ’cause that’s my homie anyway.
I had a song on F.I.V.E. called “Jesus Piece.” I just took that song—it features Kanye—I made that the title track for the new album and I started working on about 12 or 13 new songs under that concept, and everything started to fit and fall in place. I started to reach out to some of my hip-hop and R&B homies—everybody from John Legend to Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill—and everything started falling in place.
And what’s the concept for the album?
Basically, it’s like—everybody believes in God. But we got things to do; we’re not in church every Sunday like some people who are. And, the people in church every Sunday, [it] don’t mean they’re more Christian or more holy than us out here who don’t participate every week. It’s just all about belief and how you feel in your heart.
So the album is basically about loving God and understanding life and what we’re here for. And that everybody has a purpose. But still also [to] chill, man, and doing the things that you love to do. You ain’t gotta slow down your life. As long as you ain’t out there pretty much robbin’, killin’, or stealin’, I feel like you living righteous. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing or be criticized or ridiculed for it.
It’s about some of the things I think about when I’m actually in church. I look around and I see people pretending to be holier than everybody else, when that’s the same chick that was working the pole yesterday.
The album is a concept and it’s dope and I think that everybody in hip-hop and everybody in the world that listens will really appreciate it. It’s my first real album where I’m staying true to concept. The lyrics are there, the beats are there. Everybody who’s on it follows suit and concept, too, which is dope.
Did you re-record some tracks?
I scrapped everything. I scrapped every song that I had. Every beat, every song. I started fresh.
So did you have to get people back in the studio?
Yeah. The cool thing about that is that these are my homies. So asking them to go back in for me, once it was explained why—I told Weezy, I told Ross and the rest of the people featured on the album that I was going back in and I might need another feature on a different track, and everybody was cool with that. I got everybody pretty much twice.
Any plans for the stuff that’s not making the album?
Usually, I would put together a mixtape, but I don’t think I’m comin’ with a mixtape before this album. “Celebration” is doing so well, and I don’t wanna take away from the concept of what I’m doing.
How long did it take to retool things?
About three weeks
And is it finished now?
I’m not finished until it’s on the shelf. That’s just how I go. I recorded “Hate It or Love It” when The Documentary had already damn near had a tracklist. I just work until somebody stops me.
I heard the number of tracks and Apostles match up.
It was 12 apostles. Jesus was the 13th. I’m gonna stay true to concept; it’s gonna be 13 tracks.
How does this fit in with your past catalog, or deviate from it?
I don’t feel either way about it. This is my fifth album and that’s what it is. It won’t be anything like the others, like the others weren’t like anything before them. I stay evolving in my life—as a man, as a father, as an MC, as a person—and Jesus Piece is just who I am now.
Right. So what’s the deal with the Lakers this year?
You know what the deal is. We don’t need to answer that question.
So you’re coming out of the West?
Kobe Bryant and Gasol on the same team.
What about the Thunder, though?
What about the Thunder? The Thunder have no rings, Kobe has five. It’s simple. And every time Kobe gets a big man, we already know what happens. So we’ll just sit and wait. As we talk, I’m passin’ the Staples Center and it’s glowing right now, man.
So there’s been a buzz around there?
Nah, it’s not a buzz. We are the Lakers. We are the mighty, mighty Lakers. From Kareem to Magic to Shaq to Kobe to Dwight, we get it done. That’s what we do.