By Laura McQuillan of NZPA
Wellington, Aug 7 NZPA - American rapper The Game doesn't know much about New Zealand, except that "it's pretty new", and says if he comes across any sheep, "maybe I'll make me a jacket".
The quick-witted and surprisingly eloquent rapper, real name Jayceon Terrell Taylor, comes to New Zealand for the first time next week to play three shows as part of his LAX world tour.
Asked why his fans should go to his shows, Taylor says he's "not begging anyone to come and see me".
"Either come or don't come. I'm pretty sure there'll be somebody there.
"Even if there's [only] one person there, I'll rock the concert for them ... Maybe me and that one person will just leave and just cruise New Zealand."
Four years after his debut album, Taylor has become as famous for his public feuds with other artists as he has for his music.
When the 29-year-old rapper talks, it's not hard to see why his mouth sometimes gets him in trouble.
"I'm called The Game because of many reasons. There's probably nothing in the world that I can't do, I'm probably just game for everything," he says.
His feuds with rappers Jay Z, 50 Cent and G Unit are reminiscent of the Crips vs Bloods gang battle which saw hip hop heroes The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur shot dead in the 1990s.
"[Jay Z] is old and bitter, and nobody else will stand up to him, so of course I will," he says.
"I don't really care for him too much, he's not gonna put my kids through college, I've never broken a sandwich in half with the guy so, I mean, he just exists in hip hop as I do."
In a recent Foreign Policy article, George Washington University Professor Marc Lynch, likened the feud to the battle of global hegemony -- with Jay Z in the role of the United States, and The Game as the "erratic wildcard": Iran and North Korea.
The Game asks for an explanation of why that's not a favourable comparison, before likening Lynch to Greenland -- isolated from the top writers in the world -- and Jay Z to Iceland "coz he's gone cold".
Despite the petty feuds, Taylor sees himself as a role model and is "real active in the community". "I think when you become an entertainer on the worldwide scale like I have you have no choice but to accept the role of a role model.
"I just got back from Africa. I went to a bunch of schools and different classrooms out there and just, the kids, man, they look up to you and so you've gotta give back."
He'll continue giving through a radio-run competition in New Zealand where a school can win a visit from the rapper during his time in the country.
"Even in the smallest ways to you might be big to someone else so ... whenever and wherever I can give back to children anywhere in the world I will."
Yet Taylor says he's not a community activist or politician, preferring to concentrate on spending time with his family and raising his two children, and leaving others to do the same.
As for the future, Taylor says he doesn't like to "play psychic".
"My 30th birthday is [just] months away and I'm getting older and I know this and I care about it and I just wanna start really grasping hold of the next phase of my life which is the family portion.
"So I'll do music as long as I can and as long as hip hop will have me and when it starts to fade out then I'll let it."
* The Game plays three shows in New Zealand:
- Auckland, August 12
- Wellington (Porirua), August 14
- Rotorua, August 15
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