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 Sway and Game in Compton


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-- by Sway Calloway

I got the assignment to travel to Compton, California, to interview this new guy named the Game, a West Coast rapper who, in the past year, has smothered a slew of East Coast mixtapes, waged lyrical warfare against the veteran Joe Budden, and claimed to be "the savior" of West Coast rap. I will admit that I really didn't know what to expect from this kid in this interview. I met Game a few times before — once at Missy Elliott's VMA party — but the first time was when I invited him to be a guest on the radio morning show that I was doing in New York, to engage in a war of words publicly for the first time with Joe Budden. Needless to say, it was FIRE! I have to admit that I was intrigued by his persona and he actually held his own against Budden. I did warn him, though, that a lot of people sleep on Joe but he's a beast when it comes to battle records. In the end, I believe Joe edged him out in the battle, but Game managed to gain a lot of respect, further solidifying his formidable street presence.

  Game shows Sway around his neighborhood in Compton
In fact, there hasn't been a West Coast presence in the rap game like this since Tupac and Snoop. But Game has only been rapping for three years, so still the question remains: Is the Game authentic, or will he merely tarnish the legacy spawned by such pioneers as Ice-T, Egyptian Lover, King Tee and his mentors, N.W.A?

With all of these questions in mind I wanted to do this interview in the place that Game seems to hold dearest to his heart — Compton. It's obvious when listening to his raps or even watching the videos that Game is a devout member of the Bloods. Then again, how many rappers falsely claim gangs or neighborhoods but never really lived there or can't go back? So I insisted that we do this interview in the 'hood to see if he was comfortable in his skin and how many people really knew him.

Game had no problem cooperating with me. In fact, we went to the block that he actually claimed to have bought at the corner of Brazil St. and Wilmington Ave., right smack dab in the middle of Compton. We were greeted by at least 30 guys from the neighborhood, ranging from teenagers to guys probably in their early 40s. It was interesting to see how Game carried himself like a natural-born leader and his crew responded to him as such. He introduced me to his brother "Big Fase Hunned" and gave me a tour of his block, including the various houses he purchased and even a corner grocery store with an office in the back where he runs his company, the Black Wall Street.

  Photos from Game and Sway's day in Compton
At this point, it became very apparent to me that Game stays in the 'hood like he claims. He even took us to Smitty's Liquors, a place in the middle of Compton where it seems every Blood in the city congregates. There were at least 200 people hanging out, drinking, posturing and, at times, brandishing weapons, a reminder that danger is a constant. In fact, there was one point where someone from a rival neighborhood slowly drove by during our interview, and you could see everyone around us transform into combat mode. This was the closest thing to being at war. Both sides had weapons, were organized, and were willing to die to protect their way of life. I felt like we were in a movie. The camera crew was literally petrified, but for some reason I took refuge knowing that if something were to "jump off," there was nothing that we could do. We were in too deep! I'm not trying to incriminate anyone or glorify gang culture, but we were surrounded by people who wouldn't hesitate to take your life if they felt threatened. Nevertheless, I needed to utilize this time to ask about all the things that people want to know about Game, so I did.

I will say that the man didn't hesitate to answer any of my questions. My only regret is that we won't be able to fit it all in our one-hour special. All in all it was an extremely memorable day, and in my opinion, Game definitely has star power if directed right. His album has already received rave reviews and he has a powerhouse team behind him. And if the streets are any indication, then the Game is on his way to becoming the spark of a new generation of rap coming from the West Coast. Only time will tell ... in the meantime, THROW 'EM UP!




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