Hip-hop has historically gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to quality music games. While rock, pop and dance have been adequately served, hip-hop fans got DJ Hero (which was half not hip-hop), the obligatory Beastie Boys song in the rock games and Get On Da Mic (which was awful).
Def Jam Rapstar aims to finally bring gamers a good rap video game. I don’t know enough about the gameplay or feature set to talk intelligently about it, but so far it appears as though they’ve got the most important part right: the soundtrack.
Before I get into Def Jam Rapstar’s soundtrack, let me frame my thoughts by sharing some back story about me. My love affair with rap music began in the early 90s when a friend lent me a DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince album. Not the most credible way to start, but my love for the music would grow way past those roots. I went back and discovered how awesome Run-DMC and A Tribe Called Quest were. I stayed current with mainstream and underground scenes. I even got into rapping at one point and I still produce hip-hop beats.
During the early 2000s though, I was really put off by the whole southern movement in rap. I really didn’t like where the sound of hip-hop went. Outside of a few songs and artists today, I’m fairly detached from hip-hop now.
I was expecting the soundtrack to this game to consist mainly of contemporary rap songs I don’t like. To my surprise, the soundtrack so far is right in my wheel house. From the 80s, it’s got “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie, and “Mama Said Knock You Out” by LL Cool J. The West is well-represented, with highlights including “I Get Around” by 2Pac, and “Nuttin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. East Coast has “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Juicy”. As much as I dislike most southern rap music, I love OutKast, who are also featured in the game.
As far as the modern choices go, I can’t even hate on the tracks they selected. I’m not necessarily fans of all the choices (I’m looking at you, Lil Wayne) but I can’t really argue why those songs should be left out other than personal preference.
In any case, 4mm Games has impressed me quite a bit with their song selections. From what’s been announced so far, it’s mostly songs I like peppered with songs that I don’t like as much, but expect to be there. I’m not sure if that’ s enough to get me personally to pre-order a rap karaoke game, but it appears to be at least a step in the right direction.