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VIBE Q: The Game - God Blessed A Gangsta

Things just ain’t the same for the aggressive content brigade. But Game’s impact on West Coast hip-hop is solid. Once the new kid on the Left Coast block, the Compton native is now an elder statesman from which upstarts like Kendrick Lamar can learn. With arguably his best material cued up, the spiritual O.G. reviews the good, bad and inbetween of his career

Words: John Kennedy (@youngJFK)
Photography: Johnathan Mannion

When Jayceon Taylor was ambushed in his Compton, Calif., stash house, back in 2001, and punctured by five bullets from a .45 Glock, the soon-to-be rapper’s life literally flashed before his eyes. Eleven years later, after selling more than 7 million records and reviving a dormant L.A. rap scene as the Game, the MC once again feels his existence is in danger. Amidst the hell-raising fury of October’s Hurricane Sandy, his plane suffered a precarious descent into Atlanta. “No exaggeration, we almost died on the landing, bro,” recalls the 33-year-old spitter, once known as Hurricane Game, of today’s flight touchdown. “When the wheels touched the ground the plane jumped back into the air because it was unstable. It’s scary out here, no exaggeration.”

Game is, of course, exaggerating. But based on his newest project, Jesus Piece, you get the sense that he’s already made right with the (wo)man upstairs. The recently baptized rapper’s fifth LP—comprised of 13 tracks to represent Jesus and his dozen disciples—attempts to convey the struggle between adopting street life and Sunday service. It might be Game’s best, and certainly truest, effort in the midst of iPhone-self-recorded rapper scuffles and his on-off-on engagement to fiancée Tiffney Cambridge (as documented in the VH1 reality show Marrying The Game). The father of three is still finding himself, and he’s far from ready to die. “I’ve grown as far as decision-making, and just being a smarter, wiser and better person,” says Game. “But I’m the same person at heart. You can’t change that.”

VIBE: When the world first met The Game, you were a Dr. Dre progeny and lone bright spot for the future of West Coast hip-hop. Now there’s an entire class of young rhymers, from Kendrick Lamar to Dom Kennedy. Do you feel like a California elder statesman?
The Game I do. I feel like an OG, but these cats are coming in at about 24 [years old], so I’m not that far from them. I’m on my fifth album, so the separation between rookie and veteran is a bit further than it seems. But the West Coast is about to have a real strong movement. The East needs to unify a little bit more, but we’re about to make a real strong push and tip that scale.

Kendrick is already playing a big role. How did you feel the first time you heard his song, “Black Boy Fly,” where he said he used to be jealous of your success?
It was a dope concept. I appreciated it, because I’m all about paying homage to people. I feel like he spoke for a lot of up-and-coming artists from California watching me do my thing. For someone to pay homage to me makes me feel like job well done. I did a reply to “Black Boy Fly,” called “Little Brother.” Kendrick did the beat. It’s speaking directly to Kendrick, letting the world know from my perspective what I saw in him from the time he was 15 until now. It’s exactly like [Kanye’s “Big Brother”] in reverse. It’s just dope.

On Jesus Piece’s title track, there’s a line that says Dr. Dre gave your beats to Kendrick.
I was working with Dre, and it was the early stages—after me and Top Dawg put Kendrick with Dr. Dre. Dre was supposed to give me a bunch of beats, and I only got to keep one out of all the ones he promised me. I said in that song: “Dre promised me records, I never got ’em, and some of my albums missed records/I felt he shitted on me for Kendrick, recorded diss records/And Kendrick my nigga, put him on his first mixtape/I popped champagne when I heard he was with Dre.” It’s the same concept as “Black Boy Fly” in four bars.

PAGE TWO: GAME ON RELIGION, PARENTING AND IMITATING DRE

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Man Exonerated After Serving 45 Years Forced To Sell Prison Artwork For Money

A Detroit man who served 45 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, is forced to sell his personal collection of artwork that he made in prison. Richard Phillips, 72, doesn’t have steady income at the moment, and his lawyer is currently battling the state of Michigan to get him compensated for the wrongful conviction that stole his freedom.

"I don't have an income right now," said Phillips while showing off his paintings to Fox 2 Detroit. "This is my income."

In the early 1970s, Phillips was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Gregory Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison but always maintained his innocence. “I would rather died in prison than admit to a crime I didn’t do,” Philips said.

Phillips was convicted through an eyewitness account implicating him and a second man, Richard Palombo. In 2010, Palombo admitted that Phillips had no involvement in the murder and that he didn’t even know him. A new investigation was launched in 2014, nearly 20 years later Phillips appealed his murder conviction.

Last March, Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy dropped all charges against Phillips, officially freeing him from prison. “There’s nothing that I can say to bring back 40 years of his life. The system failed him. There’s no question about it,” Worthy said at the time. “This is a true exoneration. Justice is indeed being done today, but there’s nothing that we can do ... to bring back those years of his life.”

Art played a big part in helping maintain his sanity through the sentence. Though he remained optimistic, Phillips admitted that he never truly believed he would be released. To pass the time, he began painting. He pulled inspiration from everywhere: his favorite artists, photos and even tapped into some of the loneliness that he felt in prison. "It was created in a harsh environment. But it goes to show you that beauty can come from something ugly."

Last year, Detroit's Demond Ricks was awarded $1 million for spending 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. As it stands, Phillips is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted former prisoner in U.S. history.

Phillips' artwork will be on display at Michigan's Ferndale's Level One gallery beginning Jan. 18.

See more on his artwork in the video below.

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Gladys Knight Defends Decision To Perform National Anthem At Super Bowl Amid Criticism

Glad Knight says she wants to “give the National Anthem back its voice.” The music legend released a new statement defending her decision to sing  the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, next month, amid criticism from fans.

Several artists turned down offers to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Knight clarified that her choice to sing has nothing to do with Kaepernick, and she doesn't exactly agree with the anthem being "dragged into the debate."

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The 74-year-old singer also noted that she has been on the forefront of social justice issues for much of her career. "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words,” Knight said. “The way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” she continued. “I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Knight isn’t alone in catching heat for joining the Super Bowl lineup. Travis Scott and Big Boi, both of whom will perform with Maroon 5 at halftime, received backlash as well.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming Scott had a meeting with Kaepernick that ended with “mutual respect” and “understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend and Hot 97 DJ, Nessa Diab, denied the report tweeting, “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against @Kaepernick7 PERIOD. #stoplying.”

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Wendy Williams Postpones Show Return Due To “Complications” From Graves’ Disease

Wendy Williams is promising to get back to The Wendy Williams Show by the end of January, after delaying her return two previous times.

Williams announced another extended hiatus from her talk show as she continues recovering from a shoulder injury and recent “complications” brought on by Graves' disease, according to a statement posted to the show’s Instagram account Friday (Jan. 18).

“Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment,” reads the statement. “Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being.

“Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time.”

The statement included a message of support from Debmar-Mercury, the company that syndicates The Wendy Williams Show. “We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready.”

Williams will return with new episodes the week of Jan. 28.

 

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A Note from The Hunter Family As Wendy Williams Hunter previously shared, she fractured her shoulder and has been on the mend. Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment. Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being. Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time. Statement from Debmar-Mercury For over ten years, Wendy has been a vital part of the Debmar-Mercury family. We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready. The Wendy Williams Show will air repeat episodes the week of January 21st and will produce original episodes with a variety of hosts starting the week of January 28th.

A post shared by Wendy Williams (@wendyshow) on Jan 18, 2019 at 9:34am PST

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