Before finding a career as one of the most erratic, beef-prone, and well-connected rappers to emerge from the West Coast in the 21st century, Jayceon Taylor lead a life steeped in L.A. gang culture. Taylor grew up in troubled Compton, Calif., in the early 1980s and 1990s, listening to G-funk and East Coast rap. As an adult he got involved in gang violence and drug trafficking before deciding to make a go of it as a rapper in 2002, calling himself the Game and adopting a gruff, emotive flow.

After releasing a couple of mixtapes and independent albums, Game hooked up with Dr. Dre, who signed him to his Aftermath label. Game also formed an alliance with 50 Cent and his G-Unit posse, a friendship that would end in bickering and violence. Game’s debut, The Documentary, was released on Aftermath/G-Unit in 2005, featuring a top-shelf set of producers including Dr. Dre, Just Blaze, Kanye West, and Timbaland and guest appearances from 50 Cent, Eminem, and Busta Rhymes.


The two songs on that album with 50-sung hooks, “Hate It Or Love It,” and “How We Do,” became certifiable hits, but by the summer of 2005 the album’s success was overshadowed by Game’s squabbling with 50 Cent and G-Unit. The origin of the beef was buried in a haze of perceived slights and artistic tensions between 50 and Game. Both parties took to radio shows and released freestyles. Game released a breathless freestyle called “100 Bars and Running” that got a lot of attention for the sheer athleticism involved; 50 argued (correctly, it seemed) that if weren’t for his hooks and songwriting, The Documentary would have gone nowhere.

By the time Game’s sophomore release hit shelves in 2006, Game had completely severed ties with 50 Cent (though both rappers claimed the beef was over) and, it appeared, Dr. Dre as well. Dre didn’t produce any of the tracks on Doctor’s Advocate, even though Game, in a characteristic display of misguided emotion, dedicated the album to his erstwhile mentor. Other than all the drama surrounding its release, Doctor’s Advocate was more of the same from Game -- pop-styled gangsta rap with elite producers (West,, Just Blaze) and marquee guests (Nas, Snoop Dogg, Jamie Foxx). Like its predecessor, Doctor’s Advocate debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart but didn’t sell as many copies overall.

In 2008 Game released L.A.X., with production from Cool & Dre, Kanye West, and others and appearances by Lil Wayne, Common, Keshia Cole, and Nas. Lyrically, it was best album yet, as the rapper seemed to become more unhinged and interesting, and his desperate name-dropping increased to a frenetic rate. But it was Game’s lowest-selling album to date. In 2010, after the dabbling in a Jay-Z beef the previous year, Game prepared for the release of his fourth LP, The R.E.D. Album. ~Wilson McBee

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