In honor of our 15-year anniversary this month, DJBooth will be publishing a series of "lost" interviews from 2006 through 2011, including Kanye West, J. Cole, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, LL Cool J, Killer Mike, Bun B and more.
In the months leading up to the release of his third studio album, L.A.X., The Game announced his plan to retire from rap. That is, unless he could manufacture his dream album, Diary of Compton, a 10-track project with contributions from Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and DJ Quik, among others.
Of course, nearly 10 years and five full-length studio album releases later, none of which are Diary of Compton, the Los Angeles MC is still active in hip-hop, currently working on what he says is the final album of his career—some things never change.
On June 12, 2008, 14 weeks before the release of L.A.X., I had the good pleasure of interviewing The Game for the second time. In what I would describe as a spirited exchange, we discussed Eazy E's influence, rapper retirement, MTV's Hottest MCs list, face tattoos, and the project that all these years later never came to fruition.
Our interview, edited for content, clarity, and length, follows.
DJBooth: I’m excited about the new project. How do you feel about it?
The Game: Man, I appreciate it. I’m just in a space in my mind where I’m happy, my pen is happy. My lyrical content and the elevation speaks for itself. I think the last six years have helped me; I’ve grown a lot. [The] first two albums are classics in their own right, not because I said, [but] because the fans and the people have spoken, the critics, and L.A.X. is the third and the last of that trio.
On your new single, "Game’s Pain," you pay homage to just about everyone who has paved the way for you to be where you are today. Who is the person most responsible for your success who you didn't name drop?
Eric Wright. Eazy-E, man. Without him, there’s no me, because I couldn’t re-rep Compton if he didn’t start what he started. And that was what hip-hop was to me growin’ up, so without him, I wouldn’t even know Big Daddy Kane existed, ‘cause that was me. That’s where music started for me, so you erase him and you erase me.
What did Eazy-E teach you?
He showed the world what LA was about. The world, the entire world, man. When you can do that, you’ve accomplished quite a bit.
How do you view your music in the context of Los Angeles street life when trying to make music that appeals to a worldly audience?
All I did was pick up where N.W.A left off and add my own flavor to it. I’m a street artist, but I’m still big and universal enough to hit the mainstream if I need to, and if I need to backtrack, take a couple steps backward and dive back into the underground I can do that. So I think that I’m a gangsta rapper slash mainstream slash anybody who gets in my way I will annihilate, and that’s me.
Where does L.A.X. stack up amongst your three full-length albums?
It will be the best of the three, and I don’t have to sell shit to a toilet.
What do you tell someone who isn't already a fan of The Game?
I don’t get into that. You can buy my shit, or you don’t have to buy my shit. It’ll be in stores July 22nd for you to make that decision with your wallet. If you don’t, then buy the person next to me or feed yourself and your family, and if you do then be prepared to hear a fuckin’ classic album. That’s just it; I don’t sell myself to people. Hate It or Love It, man – I said that five years ago, right?
So then you have zero expectations for this album?
I’m not expecting nothing—that’s the thing, man: I just let the album grow. I’m gonna give birth to that album and let it grow legs and become its own man in stores, and let it do what it does. I’m not concerned anymore with numbers, SoundScan; if one person buys my album, that’s just one fan I got. Because when I started out, I didn’t have any fans, so I’m just appreciatin’ the fact that people love my music and gravitate towards it every time I drop an album.
You've stated previously that L.A.X. is going to be your last album, but rappers never really retire, right?
If my fourth album comes together, if the idea of it comes together the way that I want to, I’ll maybe consider doin’ a fourth album. But if I can’t get in the studio with the people that I want to, and make it happen the way that I want to, if I can’t even get them to talk about the idea, then I won’t even consider it.
What is the idea?
My next album was supposed to be this album, but this album, when I started recording it, it turned left on me, so that’s when I came with L.A.X. But my fourth album will be titled—if it comes to life—The DOC, and that’s The Diary of Compton. It’ll have 10 tracks on it; they’ll just be called chapters one through ten. If I can get Dr. Dre, MC Ren, King Tee, DJ Yella, Ice Cube, and DJ Quik to help me—not necessarily rap or feature or say anything, but to produce, and just be in my corner, and I can document it all and get it done the way I want to do it, then The DOC will hit stores.
If you pitched this idea to those artists you just listed, what could possibly be a deterrent to this actually happening?
I don’t know, but we’re all men with different schedules, different lives. If it happens, it will be a dream, and that’s when I’ll know [there’s] really a god. [laughs]
Does hip-hop need this album?
No, I need that album.
Would you then consider your career complete?
Hip-hop needs me. [laughs]
Thank you for the clarification. MTV recently announced their 10 Hottest MCs in the Game—
Fuck that list!
Okay. [laughs] That answered that question. You don't come across as the type of artist who cares about being snubbed.
You’re right, and the people came back on MTV a week later and corrected the list, and I was number one. And that’s just people, that’s the internet.
Random, but, who has the better face tattoo—you or Mike Tyson?
I got Mike beat. Mine’s just sort of big, and it’s subtle, but I think it fits me more than Mike—his is a little extreme.
Would you ever consider something like that, or...?
I would never. I’m fuckin’ way off out of my mind puttin’ this star under my eye.
Well, we all make mistakes in our lives.
I love stars—the star’s here to stay.