I GOT A BULLET WOUND RIGHT over my heart,” says the Game, the first West Coast member of 50 Cent’s G Unit crew. “One under my left arm. One on my stomach and two on the legs.” On October 1st, 2001, the Game, then a drug-dealing Blood from Compton, California, was shot five times by a rival gangbanger and left for dead. Though he barely survived, he explains that getting pumped full of lead was actually a blessing. “I was in bed, and I was bored,” he says of his recovery. “I got tired of Play-Station and BET, so I started writing.” He soaked up classic hip-hop: Tupac, Jay-Z, Biggie and N.W.A. “I would analyze that music like a paralegal would study for the bar,” says the Game, 25, who drops his debut, The Documentary, on January 18th. “It was intense. I home-schooled myself in Hip-hop 101. I took it all in, and the finished product was a newborn MC.”
Growing up, what did you hear around the house?
My grandmother had 45s – a whole bunch of Marvin Gaye and Al Green. Whenever she was playing a record she’d have no TV on, and you’d have to sit down and shut up.
Could have been worse, I guess.
Man, “Sexual Healing” was all she played! After my grandfather passed, I think she was trying to relight the flame [laughs].
Do you think your grandmother would have liked The Documentary?
She’d be very proud, but she’d buy the one from Wal-Mart – without the explicit lyrics.
How did Dre hear your demo?
I had a big buzz in Compton and Los Angeles – it was only a matter of time before it got down to Dre. Somebody knew somebody who knew somebody who gave it to him. He searched the streets and found me. When I first met Dre, I played him some of my new shit. He stepped in before the end of the first sixteen bars and said he’d do whatever he had to do to sign me. And he did. Now I’m rich Game, bitch!
What’s Dre’s secret for staying on top so long?
I’ll never tell you, ever, ever, ever. Take three years, learn how to rap and then go find out for yourself. But between me and you, I know what it is. Snoop knows, I know and 50 knows.
Is holding a mike anything like holding a gun?
Holding a mike, all you’re doing is spitting a rap. Holding a gun, you can change someone’s life forever. That’s the easiest way to make a mother cry.
Jesus…. How many times have you listened to Straight Outta Compton?
Like, a million times. Eazy-E was the man. And now more than ever, you know? I’m revisiting the old sounds because everything in modern-day hip-hop pretty much sucks. It’s washed-up bubblegum rap. Everybody’s selfish. They want a bitch, a nice fucking car, a fucking chain, and they just think that’s it.
Growing up in Compton, did you ever meet Eazy?
I saw him a couple of times when I was a little kid. You can’t say this about a lot of people, but he did a lot for the Compton community. I think that because of how he died [AIDS-related illness], people don’t give him as much praise as he deserves.
Is there any resentment in hip-hop that a white dude – Eminem – is running the game?
White, black, Asian – I don’t give a fuck, man. Everybody thinks it’s so bizarre because a white kid has never been at the top of hip-hop’s food chain. Eminem’s a talented motherfucker, and nobody can fuck with the white dude.
Who are the hottest chicks in the music biz?
I got two: Ciara and Mya. I’ve met them both but haven’t told them what I think about them. I’m too discreet for that.
What awards ceremony are you most excited to attend this year?
All of them, because I’m going to take every New Artist of the Year award. I really am. That’s not even no cocky talk. 2005 is Game time. Every day is my birthday.
On your new cut “How We Do,” the verse goes, “Touch me, tease me, kiss me, please me.” That’s not very hard-core.
But did you hear what I said after that? I say, “You know I’m rocking with the best/Four-pound on my hip.” And, yeah, I do have a gun, bitch! So be careful. I’ve got a gun in my pants at all times.
Who rolls the best blunts in G Unit?
Me. I’m from California. I roll the blunts, and I don’t smoke them with anybody.
You don’t share them at all?
Got to get their own.
Ever listen to rock & roll?
I’m friends with the guys in Good Charlotte. Benji [Madden] is one of my road dogs. We actually live in the same neighborhood. And there’s another rock group out here in California that’s got a big buzz like me. They’re called the Prom Kings. I promise they’ll be on your ass in a minute.
Any other CDs you have that would surprise people?
I got the Fantasia CD today. I like her. There’s a hot song called “Baby Mama.” She’s like the new Aretha Franklin.
C’mon! Seriously! No one will ever fill those shoes.
If I’m lying, what are you gonna do about it?