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Five gigs, four no-shows: Will The Game make it to New Zealand this time?

This story is from the team at thespinoff.co.nz

Someone is trying to bring The Game to Aotearoa – again. Good luck to them.

Once. Just a single lone appearance. To date, the only time ungoogleable rapper The Game has performed in New Zealand is on February 25, 2012.

At Spark Arena, the aggressive Compton artist known for hits like Let’s Ride and How We Do downed an entire bottle of spirits, forgot his own lyrics, berated anyone leaving the venue and hassled someone about their height.

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So why do promoters keep trying to bring The Game down under? Over the past 15 years, The Game has announced his intention to perform here five separate times, including festivals and his own headlining shows.

Yet, the man born Jayceon Taylor always has an excuse as to why he can’t make it – from missed flights to “janky” promoters and over zealous customs agents. It is never his own fault.

He might very well be the most unreliable artist ever scheduled to perform in Aotearoa. Yet someone’s trying to do it again.

To date, the only time ungoogleable rapper The Game has performed in New Zealand is on February 25, 2012.

Graham Denholm/Getty Images

To date, the only time ungoogleable rapper The Game has performed in New Zealand is on February 25, 2012.

Next year, The Game is scheduled to play two shows. He’s playing the undercard at a throwback hip-hop festival also featuring Cypress Hill and Ice Cube at Christchurch’s Hagley Park on March 31, and again at Auckland’s Trusts Arena on April 1.

Will he make it? Promoters Room Service have one thing going for them – they’ve already achieved two minor local hip-hop miracles, managing to get the country’s five-year ban lifted against Tyler, the Creator for his headlining slot at Bay Dreams, and they’re the only ones to entice Cardi B to perform in Aotearoa, even if she only played for half an hour.

If anyone can make it happen, they can. But they should probably have a little looksie at The Game’s checkered relationship with New Zealand, because the history books are against them.

Roc Tha Block, Spark Arena, September 3, 2007

I met the promoter out front of Spark Arena, and he peeled off a single ticket from a huge stack he was carrying around with him. Inside, the venue was so empty you could swing several cats at the front of the stage.

At Roc Tha Block, The Game was billed as headliner for a hip-hop festival also featuring Naughty By Nature. It was troubled from the start, shifting dates because Akon didn’t get his Visa sorted, meaning openers Mims and Juelz Santana were replaced by Pitbull and Sisqó. On the day, things got worse when The Game didn’t turn up. No one would say why.

“There is no official statement,” said a Universal Music promotion manager at the time. At least we got this immortal intro from a NZ Herald review: “It was billed as the ultimate urban experience. It almost became the ultimate urban disaster.”

Spark Arena, February 26, 2012

To date, this is the only show The Game has ever performed in Aotearoa. It was a shocker. Here are some sample quotes from the NZ Herald review that ran the following day: “The 32-year-old spent much of his Vector Arena show … scowling, berating the crowd and massaging his own ego by boasting about his achievements … [he] downed most of a bottle of spirits, taunted a little person who was dancing on stage, swore at members of his entourage , groped female fans and told the crowd off for talking during a Nate Dogg memorial … On the Kanye West-produced soul-sampling stunner ‘Wouldn’t Get Far,’ Game admitted he couldn’t remember the song’s third verse … his ego is out of control.” Who wrote this? Oh. That was me.

The Powerstation, September 11, 2013

Just a year after making it, promoters clearly felt like they were in The Game’s good books, scheduling him to perform at Auckland’s best mid-sized live music venue, The Powerstation.

To celebrate, he released a bizarre, out-of-focus promotional video which I must have seen dozens of times. It’s incredible. “Auckland … it’s going to get real awkward,” declares The Game, slurring his words in a mock Australian accent. Surprise, surprise, this show didn’t happen.

Then things did get awkward. A still-visible note on The Powerstation’s website declares: “The Game will not be playing at The Powerstation. The terms & conditions of hiring the venue were not completed, as required, by promoters.”

Raggamuffin, Trusts Arena, February 20, 2016

Boos erupted from the crowd gathered at Trusts Arena when it was announced The Game wasn’t going to make it for his much publicised performance.

But it wasn’t until the following day the reason became apparent, as a war of words broke out between festival organisers and the rapper. Raggamuffin claimed he’d missed his flight from Dubai and flown back to Los Angeles. “We honestly believed The Game would honour his obligations to our festival and it was only when we had our people at the airport on Saturday to pick him up to play Raggamuffin IX did we find out he did not board the plane in Dubai.”

In response, The Game denied this, saying: “I didn’t miss my flight, we were denied entry once we landed at Customs.” Who’s right? Who knows. But Stuff scored an incredible headline out of the situation: ‘The Game mistakes Australia for New Zealand’.

Logan Campbell Centre, September 25, 2017

Promoters billed The Game’s 2017 tour as “the last chance for fans to see the rapper in his full glory”. There’s was nothing glorious about how this went down.

Soon after the dates were announced, The Game warned fans not to buy tickets and called tour organisers “janky”. “I’m not scheduled to be in Australia until 2018,” The Game said. “And this will not be my last tour.” Promoters Tour Squad responded by filing charges against the rapper.

“We are not going to sit here and say ‘OK’ and take this on the chin… We are not going to let him get away with burning another promoter,” they told media at the time.

Tour Squad won that case and The Game was ordered to pay $500,000 in damages. In coverage of the ruling, it was revealed The Game tried to pull out of the tour when promoters refused to fund a $3 million documentary he planned to make while down under.

Auckland/Christchurch, March/April, 2023

Will it be sixth time lucky? God knows! I suspect I might be back here, continuing my 15-year odyssey tracking the concert confusion surrounding a rapper who seems to think contracts and locked-in dates and printed posters and Facebook reminders are mere suggestions of a time he may or may not show up to play an intended. My heartiest best wishes go out to everyone involved.


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