The Game's Bad Rap

A never-ending tail with a twist: The Hip-Hop Cops follow their man but lose him in the end.

After his arrest, the New York Times story, like many others, parroted the police line that "Mr. Taylor told the driver he was an officer, flashed a badge and ordered the driver to speed through red lights because he needed to get somewhere quickly."

It seemed like another rap publicity stunt—arrests help sell albums, and the Game's Doctor's Advocate had been released only five days earlier. The last time the Game had made headlines in New York's tabloids was after the Hot 97 shooting.

In that incident, 50 Cent announced on air that he was kicking the Game out of his G-Unit clique. Ten days later, the Game and 50 Cent shook hands and declared a truce during an awkwardly choreographed appearance at Harlem's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Much like pro wrestling, rappers' back- stories, feuds, romances, and lawsuits make the actual music seem almost beside the point to many people. Fanzines, hip-hop websites, and blogs buzz with each new dis track or reported club confrontation. The stories get regurgitated, reformulated, built up, and then torn down. After a while, it becomes impossible to differentiate fact from fiction but, true or bullshit, the stories stick. (Vanilla Ice still tries to defend, 16 years after "Ice, Ice Baby," his claim that he was a gang-banger from the Dallas ghetto instead of a suburban kid.)


Even by rap's standards, though, the Game's story—at least the folklore version that has sprung up around him—is fascinating.

According to accounts from various articles and websites, the Game was born on November 29, 1979, in Compton, California, into a life of gang-banging and hustling. He has said that as a kid, he was surrounded by drugs and guns. He even saw his parents preparing to do drive-bys— his father was a Nutty Block Crip and his mother a Hoover Crippelette.

According to lore, young Jayceon's grandmother nicknamed him "The Game" because he was always game for anything—basketball, track, riding bikes. Family problems related to his father caused him to be placed in a foster home from the third grade to the ninth grade. "My childhood was fucked-up, but it wasn't really that different from anyone else who lived in the 'hood," the Game has been quoted as saying. He attended Compton High School and played alongside future NBA star Baron Davis, godfather to one of the Game's kids. A six-foot-four guard, Jayceon Taylor was heavily recruited and picked Washington State, so the story goes, but his scholarship was quickly revoked when he was found with drugs in his possession.

The Game then started running behind his half-brother Big Fase 100, who had been taken in by the Cedar Block Piru Bloods even though they grew up in the Crip neighborhood Santana Block on Compton's East Side.

According to one fan site, thegamefans.com, the Game started gang-bangin' hard: car thefts, drug dealing, and shootings. Finding him too much to handle, his mother kicked him out of her house. In 2000, the Game and Big Fase 100 moved into the projects in a nearby city and took over its drug trade. Their success attracted rivals and even a home invasion by other dealers and robbers. In October 2001, so the stories go, he was shot execution-style and wound up in a coma for two days. He was later quoted as saying, "This sounds crazy, but I appreciate that happening to me, because I'd probably be dead if it didn't. Anybody who gets shot and survives feels lucky. On the other hand, I went through so much already that I felt somebody owed me. Now I could live out my dreams."

After his near-death experience, he literally studied classic hip-hop albums. When he recovered, according to these online mini-bios, he and brother Big Fase cut a mix tape that made it into the hands of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Super producer Dr. Dre, however, beat P. Diddy to it and signed up the Game.

That's Taylor's story. Similar versions have been retold in Rolling Stone and elsewhere. They're a testament to Taylor's backstory, and so is his physical presence: He's a ripped 220 pounds and has multiple tattoos, including a Los Angeles Dodgers–style "LA" on his right cheek and a tear drop under his left eye. Before his first album came out, he was already famous for being famous. It would take nearly three years before the wildly popular The Documentary debuted in January 2005. By then, Taylor had already appeared in ads for Sean John clothing, had an endorsement deal with a mobile-phone company, made cameos in videos, and released a single, "How We Do," featuring 50 Cent.

How much of his backstory is true is anyone's guess. Big Fase 100 has reportedly said that the Game's music and biography are based on his life, not brother Jayceon's. "Basically, what I did, I provided the background story for the Game," Big Fase 100 told AllHipHop.com. "For lack of a better word, I certified his 'gangster.' "

Some have said that Big Fase is lashing out because the Game dropped him as manager after accusing him and his former entourage, the Black Wall Street, of extorting $1.5 million from him.

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