Mixtape Mondays: The Game

Name: The Game

Mixtape: You Know What It Is!

Hometown: Compton, California

Joints to check for: "100 Bars & Runnin'," "Don't Make Me Clap," "Who Shot Me," ".44 Mag"

Previous mixtapes: none

The 411: You may think that you're hearing the life story of his labelmate 50 Cent when you hear how Game came up. He used to hustle drugs, got shot several times, and after turning his life around to pursue music he was signed by hip-hop's most famed production perfectionist, Dr. Dre.

"Working with Dre is a blessing," said Game, who was signed to Aftermath last year. "That sh-- is like a kid being locked in Toys R Us at nighttime. Growing up listening to N.W.A, that's what I'm representing to the fullest. Word to Eazy, I'm keeping N.W.A alive.

"The pressure is unbelievable," added Game, whose 2004 LP is tentatively titled N---a With a Attitude. "You got Em selling millions of records, 50 is almost 10 million. For me to go platinum is not only a failure to me, but to my labelmates, to my whole label. I'm coming 2 million or more. I've got to or I ain't never rappin' again."

Even with the early word on Game's lyrics heralding them as nothing short of fire, some may say he's jumping the gun by already thinking about placing his debut among some of hip-hop's classics. Listening to his mixtape, you'll hear that he's never scared.

"100 Bars & Runnin' " is one of You Know What It Is!'s most livid freestyles, as Game lets loose for almost five minutes straight, using a myriad of metaphors to describe his gunplay and to brag about how good he was at selling drugs. After promising that "N.W.A will never die" in "100 Bars," he goes on to pay homage to his favorite group with a freestyle over "Straight Outta Compton."

"In Compton, that's where Dr. Dre found me/ Gang bangin', chain hangin', 'caine slangin', but we turned it to rock/ ... I'm 21 now, I ain't pick up the mic and put the guns down/ It's survival of the fittest."

After he was shot five times at a drug hangout in October 2001, Game's survival was deemed miraculous by doctors.

"I was just in the spot chillin' and n---as kicked in the door waving [a .44-caliber pistol]," he said nonchalantly about the life-altering event. "I got shot in the heart, the leg, the stomach, twice in the leg. My doctor [said] he ain't never seen no sh-- like that. I took a bullet straight to the heart. Sh-- sounds like a straight fairytale, but it's real."

While at home recovering, Game started penning lyrics for the first time.

"I didn't even rap before I got shot," he said. "When I got home, I had my brother buy me a pen and a pad. I was on some straight rhyming sh-- for no reason."

Three months later Dre heard his demo and signed him, and now "I'm in the studio every night with Dre," Game said. Eminem, 50 Cent and Faith Evans are among the early guests, and Mobb Deep's Havoc is another producer supplying beats.

"It's crazy how everything is coming together, because the mixtape, I just threw it together real fast. I dropped it out here and it's buzzing crazy. If anybody can bring the West Coast back, it's me."

For those who don't think Game's confidence is warranted, he's dropping a double mixtape soon called Official Bootleg. In addition to all the freestyles from You Know What It Is!, he's going to include some of his real songs that have been leaked to the streets.

For other artists featured in Mixtape Mondays, check out Mixtape Mondays Headlines.