Justin Williams

Intertextuality and Lineage in The Game’s We Ain’t

Intertextuality, though pervasive in all forms of popular music, is arguably most overtly presented and celebrated in hip-hop music and culture.  Much of hip-hop is self-consciously historical, which is demonstrated both extra-musically and within the recorded hip-hop texts themselves. This paper will focus on the intra-musical aspects of the Compton-based gangsta rapper The Game’s We Ain’t (2005), on its intertextuality and the construction of rap lineage. Such investigation at a close level is all too neglected in hip-hop studies and a closer musico-analytical study of recorded texts reveals that intertextuality in hip-hop is more multifaceted and multidimensional than blanket references to ‘sampling’ suggest.

The Game sits at the extreme end of this historically-minded intertextuality spectrum. As one artist in a long line of Dr. Dre protégés, The Game was marketed and presented as the next heir after 50 Cent to the gangsta rap throne. As with Eminem and 50 Cent, Dre and Eminem used their own production styles to incorporate The Game into the fabric of previous gangsta rap styles. The Game constructed himself accordingly, mentioning canonical rappers (including the late 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G.), albums, and other gangsta rap signifiers. Through a close reading and analysis of production techniques, musical figures, quotation, flow, peer references, sampling, and stylistic allusions, I will show how The Game embeds himself in the next generation of gangsta rap artists. I look closely at Eminem’s production style, his sonic signature as providing an authorial presence beyond his rapping as an example of the relationship between recorded hip-hop texts and their place in a carefully constructed lineage.