Game Talks Jesus Piece, Jay-Z’s “Golden Era” and Unreleased Tracks With Wale and Scarface

Game is about to be a free man. This past Tuesday, the Compton rapper fulfilled his contractual obligations to Interscope by dropping his fifth solo effort, Jesus Piece. The feature-heavy release has been well-received early on (it earned an XL rating) and is projected to move around 80k units in its first week—whether because of, or in spite of, its controversial cover and concept, which explore the intersection between spirituality and street life. Either way, after more than seven years in the game, Game still has us talking. The rap vet recently stopped by the XXL office and spoke on the new album, his reality show, getting back in shape and more. —Adam Fleischer

Obviously there are a lot of features on the album. Is there anyone out there that you wanted to get on it that you didn’t?
I got so many cool people on the album. I think I can pretty much get anybody on a record. The records that didn’t make it kind of fucked me up a little bit. I wish that I coulda got Scarface on the album on the joint that I dropped the other day, “Murder.” And the joint with Wale, which is “Stripper,” ’cause they would have made Jesus Piece a much more complete album. And so in the artwork to “Murder,” I put the tracklisting and where you can slide those songs in, and they’ll actually fit perfectly. Because that’s how I record my albums; we sequence them damn near to a T. I got that from Dr. Dre, too. Just the process of what to do and how to make everything sonically fit.

You’ve said that Jesus Piece is a concept album. What are some of your favorite concept albums?
You know what, I like the Slim Shady LP. I dunno if Em had a certain concept, but I felt the concept of telling his story through these riddled tales—which we didn’t know at that point in time was his real life or just nightmares written down by ink. But it turned out to be a super, super classic album, man, going on to sell I don’t know how many millions. That was conceptual enough for me, man—just the wicked tale of Eminem, and him being separate from Slim Shady. That’s when I got to meet both. When I first met him, I thought his name was “Ekah ekah Slim Shady.” I didn’t fuckin’ know. That album is dope. Another concept album that I can think of, you know I like Aquemini. I felt like just the Aquarius, Gemini, Andre, Big Boi. Man, that album was really dope for me. It’s just classic in its own right. You never know who’s gonna have the better verse when you’re dealing with OutKast: Andre or Big Boi. These days Andre is like unfound gold—it’s hard to get him on a song, and if you do, it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. I loved OutKast in those days. Tha Carter series are dope concept albums. Also Streets Is Watching. That was dope as shit. When Jay was back fuckin’ with Sauce Money, that was Jay golden era.

Your VH1 reality show, Marrying the Game, is doing well in its first season. Any plans for season two?
You know what, we’ll see how much money they put in that net. If it’s an amount that pleases me and my family, then we’ll cut it down and we’ll do a season two. If not, then we’ll do away with it and continue what I was doing before.

Have you thought about getting back into acting in movies?
Everything happens after Jesus Piece; it’s like the “After Christ” of my career. I’m no stranger to the silver screen. I’ll read as many scripts as I can in the coming year and try to place myself in something big. What I wanna stay away from is these characters that always seem like it’s the street guy or the guy that goes to jail. I don’t want that to define me as an actor. I feel like, when it comes to acting, I don’t even bring my rap ego, I don’t bring the records I’ve sold. I don’t even bring music into that world. I read a script four or five times then I start to go into my part. So I read the entire script like five times before I even start keying in on my part. Once I key in on that, it gets real serious, and then I go in there like first day of school and I do the best that I can. If the roles get challenging, I wouldn’t mind getting out there and doing my thing A.S.A.P.

I’ve seen on your Instagram that you’re on a 60-day health kick. How come?
Probably about a year or so ago, I was in the best shape of my life. Working out every day, eating well. My younger brother, Byrd, he got a little bit inspired by me, and he took it a step further and turned into Iron Man and shit. It’s hard working on the album when you’re in the studio next to a 7-11 and they got fuckin’ Doritos and burritos and Fritos and shit. So I kind of fell off my work. It’s hard to work out when you’re leaving the studio at six or seven in the morning; you go home and go to sleep and have to go right back. You lose focus. So once I completed the album, I asked my brother if he would train me. He agreed, so he shows up every day at about 7 a.m. We drink the shake for breakfast, then we run and work out and do what we gotta do, and just eat as healthy as possible. Not on no Jane Fonda shit. Just to better yourself. And lately I’ve been sleeping better, a lot more energy. It feels good to be in shape.