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Every region of the country has gotten its turn to be considered the epicenter of hip hop, and for a good portion of the ’90s, the west coast held that distinction. Headlined by Death Row Records’ stable of talent and other contemporaries from Los Angeles to the Bay, California dominated real estate on the Billboard charts. However, in the aftermath of 2Pac’s death, Suge Knight’s incarceration, and the demise of Death Row, the west coast’s fall from grace was precipitous. Enter The Game, a native of Compton, California — the stomping grounds of N.W.A. co-founder Dr. Dre — who scooped the upstart up after being impressed by his talent and even more intrigued by his potential.
Signing to Aftermath Records in 2002, The Game would languish on the label’s developmental roster until an affiliation with 50 Cent and G-Unit helped put his career on the fast track with his debut album, The Documentary, hitting shelves on January 18, 2005. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with over a half-million units moved in its first week, The Documentary was a massive success, thrusting The Game into stardom and cementing him as the new face of west coast rap in the eyes of critics and fans alike. Supported by multiple hit singles like “Westside Story,” “Higher,” “How We Do,” “Hate It or Love It,” “Dreams,” and “Put You On Game,” The Documentary sold more than five million copies worldwide by the end of 2005 and earned The Game two Grammy nominations — one for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “Hate It or Love It,” and one for Best Rap Album. Having enjoyed an illustrious career with one of the stronger discographies of any artist from his era, he built a resume worthy of legendary status.
With the 15th anniversary of the album’s release upon us, REVOLT unearthed nine interesting facts about The Documentary that you probably didn’t know. Peep them below.
1. The Album Was Originally Titled Nigga Witta Attitude Vol. 1
The Game’s infatuation with the legacy of N.W.A. is well-documented, as he’s voiced his adoration for the iconic quintet on numerous occasions. The Compton rep had planned to honor his predecessors by titling his debut album Nigga Witta Attitude Vol. 1, The Source reports. But, a legal injunction filed on behalf of Eazy-E’s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright, prevented the rapper from using any variation of the N.W.A. inspired title, prompting him to title his project The Documentary instead.
2. Kanye West Was Supposed To Appear On It
Chance encounters between musicians can manifest into classic collaborations, which was the case in the early aughts, when The Game and Kanye West crossed paths after attending a party thrown by Nelly. A freestyle session led to the two exchanging numbers and Kanye delivering the instrumental for The Documentary single “Dreams,” which became one of the biggest hits off the album. However, unbeknownst to many fans, Kanye was initially slated to appear on the album, as well. During the recording of the LP, the pair worked on a song built around a sample from the 1994 film Jason’s Lyric, which was ultimately left on the cutting room floor.
3. The Original Version of “Westside Story” Was Supposed To Be On The All About the Benjamins Soundtrack
The first single to be released from The Documentary was “Westside Story,” which served as many casual rap fans’ first introduction to The Game and his ferocious flow. Featuring 50 Cent, the song caught a buzz on the streets long before an official release date for the album was announced. This was due in part to the song initially being tapped to be included on the soundtrack to the 2002 comedy All About the Benjamins. But, the track was later reworked to drum up anticipation for The Game’s Aftermath debut.
4. “Dreams” Was The First Song Recorded For The Documentary
Like many artists eager to get their music out to the world, The Game was ready to jump the gun and release his debut album prematurely. But, when the scrappy lyricist turned in a demo of the completed version to the label, he was sent back to the drawing board and all of the songs were scrapped sans one song, the Kanye West-produced “Dreams,” Complex reports. The MC’s instincts paid off with “Dreams” becoming the first song recorded that ultimately wound up on the album.
5. The Game Found The “How We Do” Beat In A Folder Full Of Dre’s Beats
Producers are the backbone of any great album, as the beats they supply inform or inspire the direction of the lyrical content or melody of a song. That being said, sometimes an artist has to go to extreme measures to secure the perfect instrumental that completes their vision and could propel their career to the next level. The Game took this route when he misled an engineer into allowing him to go through Dr. Dre’s folder of beats, emerging with a banger titled “Fresh 83,” which became the backdrop to his seismic smash single “How We Do.” Intended for 50 Cent, The Game convinced Dre to allow him to record the track for The Documentary, and the rest is history.
6. Dr. Dre Created The “Don’t Need Your Love” Beat From Scratch
Unfortunate mishaps during the recording process have resulted in what might’ve been some of the greatest contributions to rap music to vanish into thin-air, never to be heard again. This nearly occurred when producer Havoc misplaced the files to “Don’t Need Your Love,” which the Mobb Deep member crafted for The Game during the making of The Documentary. Luckily, Dr. Dre, being the surgeon that he is, was able to recreate the beat from scratch, salvaging one of the album’s most powerful tracks, and earning himself a co-production credit in the process.
7. Dr. Dre Got The Game Drunk Before Recording “Start From Scratch”
Getting an artist into the zone to properly channel their thoughts is paramount in capturing a riveting performance on wax, which is what Dr. Dre did to The Game during the making of the emotionally charged The Documentary cut “Start From Scratch.” Suggesting that The Game guzzle a few cups of Hennessy to help him spill his thoughts.
8. Brandy Was Originally Supposed To Be On “Don’t Worry”
Every now and then, a feature artist is axed from a song in favor of a more popular artist. In the case of The Documentary cut “Don’t Worry,” R&B singer Brandy, who was originally set to contribute vocals to the track, was replaced by Mary J. Blige, who the label felt was more aligned with The Game’s street persona. While the version that wound up on the album is one we’ve come to love, it’s interesting to think of what the song would have sounded like with Brandy on it.
9. Lloyd Banks Was Originally Supposed To Appear On “Runnin’”
The Hi-Tek-produced song “Runnin’” doubled as Tony Yayo’s grand return to the G-Unit fold following his release from prison. But, The Documentary fan-favorite was set to be anchored by Lloyd Banks instead. However, being that Yayo was absent from G-Unit’s previous solo releases to that point, The Game and company felt that “Runnin’” was an appropriate occasion to incorporate the “Talk of New York” back into the swing of things.