While recovering in the hospital from gunshot wounds he incurred in late 2001, Game told his brother to go out and buy all of the classic hip-hop albums. Over the course of five months, he studied all of the various influential rap albums and developed a strategy to turn himself into a rapper. With the help of his older brother Big Fase, they founded the label. It originally featured such artists as Glasses Malone, Vita, and Nu Jerzey Devil, along with Game himself. His stage name was coined by his grandmother, who was a huge fan of the 1997 blockbuster, The Game. Game first gained prominence when he attended a hip-hop summit hosted by Russell Simmons and Louis Farrakhan. After he had fully recovered, Game and Big Fase made a mixtape together. He released his first mixtape You Know What It Is Vol. 1 in 2002, and landed a record deal with the independent label Get Low Recordz owned by JT the Bigga Figga.
Game’s mixtape reached the hands of Sean Combs, founder of Bad Boy Records, who originally was on the verge of signing him to his label. Five months later, he was discovered by Dr. Dre who listened to the mixtape that had been produced by his brother. Dr. Dre contacted Game and signed him to his Aftermath Entertainment label in 2003. In late 2003, Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre decided to have Game work with 50 Cent and G-Unit in order to help build a growing buzz around Game which would also fuel interest in G-Unit. Game made his first cameo appearance in the music video for 50 Cent’s “In da Club”, where he is seen dancing with a girl. Since then, he has made numerous cameo appearances in music videos by 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, and Fabolous. Game spent the next two and a half years working on his major label debut album and being mentored by Dr. Dre.