When The Game visited the UK last week, I was honored to be granted a face-to-face interview. I was however warned that he may not turn up, say little, or could lock it off at any time. As I waited in the lobby of a posh London hotel, the previous journalist emerging from his own interview told me that The Game didnít look up from under his hood once. I was a little apprehensive. Having grown up in foster care, I was interested in asking him about his own experiences in care. From the age of five through 13, The Game lived in a foster home after his sister accused their father of sexual abuse. But after hearing this from the journalist, I decided to tread carefully.
In what turned out to be a candid and personal interview, The Game reveals his experiences pertaining to family, as well as reflects on who many perceived to be his Hip-Hop father: Dr. Dre. This isnít the kind of conversation normally associated with Hip-Hop interviews, but then again, The Game is hardly a typical Hip-Hop artist.
AllHipHop.com: Youíve lived through so much. Whatís the most important life-lesson youíve learned along the way?
The Game: The most important lesson Iíve learned in life is that you have to be a father before anything else. As long as I be doing that, I seem to be having a lot of good love with everything else I try and fall into.
AllHipHop.com: Youíve said before that Dr. Dre is like a father figure to you. Whatís the most important thing that heís taught you?
The Game: Is that you canít trust anybody in this business, and at the end of the day, youíre all alone so you gotta make the best of what you got.
AllHipHop.com: Whatís the one thing you wished you knew growing up that youíd like to instill in your son?
The Game: I just wish Iíd known how it feels to have your father there for you and really taking care.
AllHipHop.com: You grew up with a foster family for part of your childhood. What impact did this have on you?
The Game: That situation is the reason that Iím as f**ked up as I am today. Iím trying to straighten it out now 20 years later, and itís a slow process but Iíll get there.
AllHipHop.com: I grew up in a foster home tooÖ
[The Game looks me directly in the eye unflinchingly for several seconds, then proceeds.]
The Game: Itís horrible, you feel alone sometimes, right? And you really wish that you had family, a mom and dad, and placemats and silverware, and mom coming home, dad coming home, shouting, ďHoney Iím home!Ē and then they call you out the room where youíre doing your homework, and you come running down the stairs and jump on your dad - but thatís not our f**king reality, is it? No, itís f**ked up. Itís a bad situation, and I donít wish that on anybody. I always try to at least give words of wisdom, if not some type of financial or clothing donation, to kids in foster homes around the world. Because itís a sad, sad story and people donít know until theyíve been there, and if youíve been there you never wanna go back. You canít say enough how messed up it is to grow up in that type of situation.
AllHipHop.com: But going through tough times makes you stronger thoughÖ
The Game: Of course, and so I would never change that aspect of my life because Iíve learned so much from that situation and others that I went through. But we all know that trials and tribulations make for a good story, which is why there even is a Hip-Hop, or a gangsta rap movement.
AllHipHop.com: How does it feel being the spokesperson for West Coast rap?
The Game: I just tell my story, you know, I wake up everyday, I do these interviews, and this is just me telling my part, Iím only one person, one man, one father, one musician - and itís just me speaking my piece.
AllHipHop.com: Dr. Dre receives a lot of praise on your new album, yet he doesnít feature or contribute to productionÖ
The Game: Too bad for him! I donít want anybody to do anything that they donít wanna do. When I found out Dre wasnít gonna be working on the album, I lifted my head up and opened my chest out and I had to get it done.
AllHipHop.com: So you wanted him on there but he refused?
The Game: I didnít really care, itís either you do it or you donít, I donít have time to be worried about other peopleís feelings; I basically just wanted to complete my album and it was either with or without Dre - I was gonna do that. On this album it was without, so I had to make do with what I had.
AllHipHop.com: Will he be working on any of your future albums?
The Game: If I could tell you that then I should probably quit rapping and start some psychic hotline or something.
AllHipHop.com: What about the title track, ďDoctorís Advocate,Ē thatís pretty much a tribute to DreÖ
The Game: I was drunk on that song, so I donít remember or care what I was talking about that night. That was just that night, and it was documented and itíll forever be remembered Ďcause itís on that album; itís just the way I was feeling that night and not the next morning and not the day before.
AllHipHop.com: So you and Dre are not as tight as some may think?
The Game: I mean, me and Dre didnít grow up together breaking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in half. I met Dre in 2001/2002 and weíve had a great friendship since then, but I havenít known him for 20 years, so I donít expect him to jump off a mountain for me, and I definitely wouldnít do the same for him. But Hip-Hop is every man for himself; weíre all independent artists so we gotta make the best of what weíve got.
AllHipHop.com: Thank you so much for speaking with me, Iíd like to talk more but timeís running outÖ
The Game: I would love to talk to you all day but I donít make the time and [gestures at entourage] these people, theyíre crazy.
[Before I leave, I ask The Game to sign my iPod. He happily obliges, and I wish him all the best with that night's show. On the subway back to the office, I turn over my iPod and see that heís finished the message with the words ďFoster Kids.Ē I smile to myself and continue my journey.]