After blasting his way onto the charts more than a year ago with the 2 million-plus selling album “The Documentary,’’ Jayceon Taylor aka “The Game’’ is back again with “Doctor’s Advocate.’’ The just-released album is a head-thumping ode to West-Coast rap that is as satisfying as anything hip hop has had to offer all year, and the Compton, Calif., native isn't shy about saying as much.
But just as his music makes waves on the radio, The Game’s personal and professional relationships have made non-stop headlines in newspapers, blogs and hip-hop journals. A long-running feud with one-time label mate 50 Cent and Game’s subsequent break from his idol Dr. Dre’s record label has kept the Game in a state of self-described frenzy. But the former drug dealer hopes he’s released more than a few of his demons on the new album, which already has sales of more than 450,000 copies. He talked to NEWSWEEK’s Allison Samuels. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: Your first album came out after such a rough time in your life. You’d been in a coma after being shot and then you got signed to G-Unit/Aftermath records with 50 Cent and Dre. How did something that seemed so good go so wrong?
The Game: I’m not sure there’s one answer for that. I mean, yes, I was coming from a really bad place where I didn’t know how I was going to support my family and my son. Getting hooked up with Dre was a dream come true. But when 50 started taking a lot of the credit for doing everything on my album, it just stung and I had to say something.
That “something” turned into quite a public feud between you and 50. Did it get blown out of proportion?
Well it’s hip hop and negative, so it’s going to be blown out of proportion. That’s what the media likes to see and say about us rappers, so I figured that when it began. You have a disagreement and it becomes this huge, overblown thing. But it is what it is, and now I’m trying to focus on my music and on being and staying the superstar rapper that I am.
How did that affect the making of this album?
I ain’t going to lie. It took me a minute to begin to record because I did feel like I was in a black hole by myself. You know, like all of hip hop had just abandoned me and kicked me to the curb because of the feud. It was like being a kid in the ‘hood with no moms and pops—you just out there trying to fight for your life. It took its toll for sure. But you have to get up sometime and I’d been through enough in my ‘hood—be it with selling drugs, gangbanging or whatever—that I knew I had to get back on track.
The album stays true to the West Coast flavor even though you have many producers from all over, like Kanye West. What was that like?
It was great to be embraced by others when I didn’t think I would be. You know the West Coast fans were always down for me no matter what was going on. But I like to think of myself as being more than a regional rapper. I like to think of myself as being international and having fans that see me that way, too. So I wanted to reach out to others to get their help and to sort of grow as an artist. I think I did that and the album shows it. It’s the best album that’s going to come out this year point blank. No disrespect to Jay Z, but my first album was the bomb and so is this one.
Even without your mentor, Dr. Dre? You’ve always admired him and though he’s not on this album, you talk about him constantly. It must have been hard not working with him this time around?
Many people are making a lot of Dre not producing this album or being on it, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have input. I talked to Dre two or three times a week about this album. I just was doing my own thing, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a relationship with Dre anymore. He signed me and changed my life. How could I fall out with him? I’m 27-year years old—a grown man—I don’t have time to be falling out with people all day and explaining myself to the media about stuff that’s so foolish. I let the media think what they want. They think Dre isn’t on the album and that means we’re on the outs—so be it. Let them think it.
We can’t do a story and not talk about your adorable three-year old son, Harlem. You’ve had him on your album covers both times. I noticed you gave a big shout out to his mother in your album’s acknowledgements. You always hear about “baby mama drama’’ with rappers for some reason, but not you, right?
Yeah, I have no “baby mama drama,” and I’m grateful for that. My son’s mother is amazing and is doing an amazing job raising our son. We’re not together—that didn’t work out—but she works with me to do the best for my son and takes care of him so I can go out and make the money to support him. People get confused about why I’m in this game. It’s not about the fame or the jewels and stuff. It’s to take care of my family and make sure they never have to want for anything. When I was really down, just seeing Harlem changed everything for me.