By Carly Wolkoff, with reporting by Felicia Morris
Game is standing by the controversial artwork for his upcoming album Jesus Piece, telling MTV News that it has personal significance to him.
"Don't get it twisted, I'm no Pastor Mase at all," he said.
The cover is a stained-glass stylization featuring an African American Jesus sporting a red bandana, a teardrop tattoo and marijuana leaves adorning the background. If anyone is worried that the Game has traded hip-hop for Jesus like Mase did back in '99, rest assured — he insists he isn't going anywhere. "The old me, the real me, the me inside me, the me that I always was — to still have that person exist and still have that faith, that's the balance right there — that's the balance that a person like Mase couldn't find," Game told MTV News.
The Game likens himself to Michael Jordan and Dr. Dre, who each thought they could walk away from his respective crafts, but knew in their heart that it was impossible. "That's basically what it is for me," Game explained.
In Game's reasoning for his album cover, he explains, "I did the album cover the way I wanted to. It embodies part of my career, my life; it's all in that cover. And, you know, I love God, Jesus Christ is my savior and I'm still out here thuggin'." Despite his newfound religion, he has resumed his usual hobbies of smoking weed — because "this is California" and he hasn't read anywhere in the Bible that he can't — and going to strip clubs because "that's what I do."
Game justifies his seemingly contradictory lifestyle, "I know that might sound weird and that's an awkward balance, but it's my balance...I think that right before that person that wants to make judgments or pass judgment on my album cover, I think right before they do that, they should stop and they should look in the mirror and look at their own life."
Jesus Piece is due out in December and his upcoming VH1 reality show, "Marrying the Game," airs on November 19.