The Game - Biography
By Paul Glanting
If Hip Hop didn’t have a consistent flow of disputes, over-inflated egos and all-around controversy, it just wouldn’t be the ubiquitous genre that it is today. Hence, Compton rapper The Game has become a prominent player within Hip Hop, despite it being relatively early-on in his career. With a menacing snarl on his mug, as well as a consistently changing tattoo next to his right-eye, The Game has become one of rap music’s most straight-shooting and brash lyricists, spilling teeth-gnashing tales of the streets with reckless abandon. While the former Blood gang-member has released a mere three major-label albums, he has worked alongside, as well as been at odds with, some of the genre’s most seasoned veterans. Hence, in less than half a decade, The Game has experienced enough loyalty, tumult and betrayal as any seasoned veteran with twice the years under their belt.
Like so many others raised under the same conditions, Jayceon Taylor indeed fell prey to the degenerative gang culture which runs rampant in his native Compton, California, falling in with the Bloods street-gang. However, Taylor had several redeeming interests which fortunately for Taylor, nudged him to stray from a life of crime and towards a more progressive existence. A gifted athlete throughout high school, Taylor played basketball alongside future NBA mainstay Baron Davis but more importantly, he had an interest in rap music. Dubbing himself, The Game, after the nickname his grandmother used to call him in his athletic days, The Game initially acquired a deal with Get Low Records, an independent rap label based out of San Francisco, that had a large cult following and launched the careers of Bay Area rappers like J.T. The Bigga Figga and San Quinn. While The Game eventually departed from Get Low Records, the label was still in possession of a sizable amount of reels containing unreleased songs by the Compton rapper. Subsequently, Getlow has released four albums worth of these lost recordings, the first of which was Untold Story (Get Low-2004) followed in subsequent years by West Coast Resurrection (Get Low-2005), Untold Story, Vol. 2 (Get Low-2005) and finally G.A.M.E. (Get Low-2006). While later recordings by The Game feature more polished synth-powered production, his work with Get Low reflects a lower-tech, DIY ethic, primarily crafted by Get Low founder J.T. The Bigga Figga.
The sound of the West Coast’s funk-inspired Hip Hop was primarily crafted by Compton-born producer Dr. Dre. Throughout the ‘90’s Dr. Dre’s intensely complex productions helped launch the careers of future Hip Hop icons like Snoop Dogg, Warren G and 50 Cent. Despite assisting the careers of artists who were from areas like Long Beach and New York, respectively, Dr. Dre had yet to launch an artist from his own neck of the woods, Compton. After hearing a mixtape by The Game and perhaps seeking to add this accolade to his pristine resume, Dr. Dre brought The Game onto his prestigious label, Aftermath Records, a camp which was affiliated with anchors like 50 Cent and Eminem.
Dr. Dre and Aftermath began to heavily promote the young rapper, releasing the promo album Westside Story (Aftermath-2004), whose star-studded list of appearances included the likes of Ludacris, Kanye West, Fabolous and Joe Budden. Another supplement to the buzz growing around Dr. Dre’s new protégé was The Game’s work alongside 50 Cent’s group G-Unit. Despite the fact that The Game had often associated with artists whom G-Unit had tumultuous relations with such as Jim Jones, Ja Rule and Joe Budden, The Game and G-Unit were able to work peacefully together for a period of time. 50 Cent even worked closely with Dr. Dre for the production of The Game’s major label debut The Documentary (Aftermath-2005). Originally titled “N***a Witta Attitude Vol. 1”, as a homage to influential rap group N.W.A. and a championing of the West Coast Hip Hop scene he sought to revitalize. However the widow of the late Eazy-E protested The Game’s usage of N.W.A.’s name. And, Eazy-E’s son, Lil Eazy-E even went as far as recording several songs containing inflammatory remarks aimed at The Game, claiming he was smearing his father’s name. While certainly not the most noteworthy feud involving The Game, it would indeed foreshadow a consistent streak of verbal disputes entangling the young rapper.
The Documentary primarily lived up to the hype, featuring The Game’s nasally delivery, spewing tales of gritty gang life on songs like “How We Do” and “Where I’m From.” One aspect of the album, which critics often attacked, but was perhaps also somewhat responsible for the album’s success, was its lengthy list of guest appearances from artists like Busta Rhymes, Eminem, and Faith Evans, as well as three tracks featuring then-ally 50 Cent. Nonetheless, considering The Game's aggressive flow, coupled with Dr. Dre's audio mastery, The Documentary was widely seen as the beginning of what would be a fruitful career in a genre where longevity is seldom.
The Game’s alliance with G-Unit appeared to be solid, The Game even taking stabs at Yukmouth, a former rival of G-Unit on behalf of his comrades. However, amidst the album’s success, several factors stockpiled and a highly publicized dispute arose between The Game and G-Unit, primarily 50 Cent. The Game eventually voiced his desire to remain neutral in regards to several other quarrels G-Unit were involved with. His pacifism angered 50 Cent, who soon began to take jabs at The Game’s credibility. Soon after, 50 Cent began to make claims that he had written a good amount of The Documentary, and didn’t receive proper credit. Several songs containing verbal insults were exchanged and as The Game’s status within Hip Hop quickly ascended, so did the feud between between the two camps. The verbal fisticuffs had soon bloated to new heights, leading to The Game's departure from Aftermath, the label which had helped propel him to prominence.
The Game appeared to have his work cut out for him, as he would have to prove that he could retain his status without the backbone of Dr. Dre and 50 Cent’s tutilige. Despite a general skepticism,The Game’s follow-up to The Documentary, Doctor's Advocate (Geffen-2006) would be his second album to debut at number one. And, while the album was without of Dr. Dre’s prestigious production, The Game expresses a his respect and gratitude towards the producer. Replacing Dr. Dre, however, were other big name beat-smiths like Swizz Beatz, Kanye West and Just Blaze. The Game’s lyrics stayed true to his rough-around-the-edge prose of gang-infested Los Angeles on “It’s Okay (One Blood)” and “Let’s Ride. ” The Game also ackowledges his own tendency to engage in verbal fisticuffs with other rappers, on the track “Why You Hate the Game”, which features Nas.
The Game’s list of foes was certainly in no short supply; in 2006, Los Angeles rapper Ras Kass released a song titled “Caution”, which included a reference to The Game’s son. The Game did not take it in gest and the two exchanged words on several brutal diss songs and eventually culminated in a physical fight at a Los Angeles nightclub.
Doctor’s Advocate proved that The Game’s success wasn’t merely a fluke, dependent on Dr. Dre’s mastery and that he could be a consistent force within Hip Hop, without the backing of already established giants from within the genre. And, while The Game’s sophomore album was greeted with doubt, his third album was birthed into an ocean of hype, created by his prolific albums, as well as high profile scuffles with G-Unit, Ras Kass and Lil Eazy-E. Before the release of The Game’s third album LAX (Geffen-2008), The Game announced that he felt he had expressed himself to the extent that he desired over the course of three albums and that LAX would be his final album (although he has since refuted this claim). Not surprisingly, LAX would be The Game’s third straight album to glide to number one on the Billboard charts. Thematically, LAX was far more varied than The Game’s previous two efforts; the West Coast rapper’s musings range from the brooding melancholy of “My Life” to the upbeat homage to Hip Hop legends on “Game’s Pain.” LAX also features “Never Can Say Goodbye”, which features The Game hypthetically narrating the final twenty-four hours in the lives of fallen rappers 2-Pac, The Notorious B.I.G. and Eazy-E. Despite being a pillar of the West Coast rap scene and being fairly adimant about championing the region of his origin, most of the guest appearances, which range from the likes of Ludacris to Common to Lil Wayne to Raekwon, are from artists representing other cities such as New York, Chicago and New Orleans.
Already a household name, The Game is leading the charge of fresh West Coast rappers. Essenetially engaging in contraversy from the moment he set foot into the Hip Hop world, The Game's gritty demeanor have made him a mainstay. A continually improving student of Hip Hop culture, The Game’s bold narratives are as raw as they come, making The Game one of the genres remaining no-nonsense wordsmiths.