That Thursday at the Standard Bank Arena, The Game was having a pretty poor night.
He’d taken the stage with a dozen of his Compton Bloods homies, done versions of all six of his hits and another handful of hip-hop classics by Pac, Biggie, Snoop and NWA.
He’d dissed rival crew G-Unit, professed lifelong loyalty to his red Bloods bandanna, tossed a brick of banknotes into the crowd and prayed that he might one day enjoy carnal knowledge of Keyshia Cole. Halfway through the show, one of his West Side dogs brought on a bottle of what might have been vodka, and he downed the entire thing in a single draught.
“I’m an alcoholic,” he declared with some pride. From there on out his performance only got worse.
He’d do 45 seconds of One Blood and then sabotage it, “Whoah, whoah, whoah,” he’d tell DJ Chris Styles. “Play some else.”
“Turn on the lights,” he ordered, “I wanna see everybody”.
He burst into tears. He ordered us to salute the late Mama Afrika, “Even though I don’t know her music.” He also didn’t appear to know her real name – Miriam Makeba.
The crowd – mostly young men – became restless and fights broke out. Someone in the crowd hit him with a lobbed beer can. He ordered the other crowd members to beat him up.
Things went from bad to worse. So he invited the crowd on stage. Guys started clambering over the barriers. Pretty soon there were 30 dudes up there, and there was a real chance of Game being jostled off the stage into the press pit.
“Let’s get the ladies up here,” he bellowed, and the women began grappling their way over barriers onto the artist’s space. It was chaos.
Then someone in the crowd caught his eye. “Come up, man,” he said. “Send him up. Pass him up!”
A nine-year-old boy was handed over people’s heads and deposited at Game’s feet on the edge of the stage. The Kid had been singing along to the songs and Game wanted him to sing into the mic.
But the kid wasn’t there for a novelty moment. He grabbed the mic and began busting out in full voice. Displaying perfect flow and timing, and knowing all the words, he strutted across the stage, stirring up the crowd with a stunning version of Dreams, ending it off with a straight-up dig at Game: “I’m not supposed to be you!”
All 10 000 people in the house were gobsmacked. The kid had mad skills. The DJ flowed straight into Hate It Or Love It, and the tiny rapper rolled right along with it in his youthful treble, again word-perfect and with tight flow. He was beating The Game at his own Game!
The West Coast Crew started worshipping the kid, Game was bowing down! He took off his chain and hung it on the kid’s neck. Pretty soon all ten of his homies had taken off their massive chains and hung them on the kid’s neck.
And still the kid was rapping! With a couple of kilos of bling hanging off him. The kid just wouldn’t quit. After three songs, the Game wrestled the mic off him and laid down 40-odd bars of pretty fair rhymes. Maybe his best of the night. The kid had shocked him back into form.
“What’s your name kid,” he asked, but the kid indicated that they had to give him one. Game sidekick Jersey Devil whispered in his ear and then they had it. Game Boy.
“I say Game, you say Boy,” Game commanded the crowd, and we obliged in full voice. “Game… Boy. Game… Boy. Game… Boy!”
“Welcome to Black Wall Street, “ Game told Game Boy at the end of it, and presented him with a shirt as tall as he was, and a chain of his own! Then the kid and his brother walked off stage with Game and his West Coast crew.
As they did so, he indicated to his friends in the crowd, pointing to the exits stage right. He’d still be needing that lift home…