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NEW YORK (Billboard) - Once upon a time, gangster rapper Game had preconceived notions about eccentric rapper/producer Pharrell Williams -- and vice versa. But the two have since put aside their differences; Williams is the executive producer of Game's fourth studio album, "R.E.D.."
"It was the most hood album I had until Pharrell came in and took over," the Compton, Calif.-raised rapper said of the collaboration, which Interscope Records will release February 16.
"Don't get me wrong -- this album is still hood," Game continued. "I would describe it as the beauty of the sky meets the gangster of the streets. It's just got a bit more color to it."
Williams isn't the only mixmaster contributing beats to "R.E.D." Cool and Dre, DJ Khalil and Dr. Dre all lend their production efforts, while Beanie Sigel, Rick Ross, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke make guest appearances.
Billboard: What does the album title mean?
Game: It was a title Pharrell and I came up with. It was like where I am at in my career. My last album felt like it might've been my last album, but it turned out not to be. So, this album is the rededication -- to myself and to what I care about, like my friends, my family, my city, my hood, my genre and rap.
Billboard: How did you link up with Williams for this album?
Game: We worked together one day, and that one day turned to 30 days, and those 30 days turned to 60, and then those 60 developed into a friendship. We both prejudged each other, but once we met, we realized although we come from different places and different situations, we were kind of the same in different aspects of life. Now, our relationship is bigger than music. We have life conversations about bettering ourselves, and we've become good friends. We realized that aside from being musicians, we are brothers in this thing we call hip-hop.
Billboard: Dr. Dre produced two tracks for this album so far. How does it feel to work with him again?
Game: Dre and I have always been on the same team, I've just been too wild for him at times. He's older and legendary and he's been through enough drama in his career and doesn't have to jump into my drama. So, I understood that and why he pulled back.
Billboard: You recently got the words "Star Trak," the name of Williams' label, tattooed on your arm. Are you signed to him now?
Game: No. I'm Black Wall Street all day, but considering all he's done for me -- he saved my career -- I'm riding for Star Trak too. I hold dear anything that helps elevate me and my life and my career and helps me take care of my family. I'll be in debt to him forever for what he's done for me. I appreciate him and I would never go to such extremes as to get a tattoo if it didn't deserve it.
Billboard: 50 Cent, your former label president and arch enemy, released an album recently that sold only 160,000 copies in its opening week. What are your thoughts on that?
Game: It didn't do the numbers he expected, but he should try harder next time. Some sell a million, others do 50. For him to do everything he's done and start beef with other rappers like Rick Ross and draw media attention to himself in that way but only sell 10 more thousand than Ross means people aren't buying into the bulls--t anymore.
Billboard: You're still wrapping up this album. Are there any surprises you've got up your sleeve?
Game: I'm trying to get (Interscope co-founder and chairman) Jimmy Iovine to throw me in the studio with Lady Gaga. She's a rebel, and I go against the grain every day, so, if it happens, it'll be monumental for the state of music.