In hip-hop, a MC’s vocals become the lead instrument. Without actual people playing behind him or her, a rapper is arguably left more out on a limb than his/her equivalent in a rock ensemble. Ain’t no bassist coming to spice things up with an inventive solo nor will a live guitarist create fireworks to wipe away the memories of flubbed lyrics. If your banter or charisma falls flat, that’s all she wrote. The beat is only there as a foundation; it’s not going to dynamically respond to you. You’re existentially alone.
The individual tenacity required to make good hip-hop has helped fuel the genre’s rise to the top of the charts over the last decade. So, yeah, hip-hop’s not vying for recognition in mainstream culture anymore, but surprisingly, it’s not well represented in the music game market. “Def Jam Rapstar” is looking to change all of that. Developed by 4mm studios and Terminal Reality and distributed by Konami, “Rapstar” lets gamers get loose on the microphone, giving them the chance to rock to classic tracks by artists new and old. Using the PlayStation Eye or Xbox Live Vision camera, your performance will be scored and recorded. The video of your karaoke session can be uploaded to the game’s community Web site, where other users can rate it.
For the wannabe MCs out there, the game will also let you record your own rhymes over original instrumentals that are included. Those tracks will be coming from an all-star roster of producers, including DJ Premier. 4mm sees “Rapstar” as the center of a social network that’ll use smartphones and the Web to tie into the console experience. You can opt to keep track of friend activity via text message, so you’ll know when your crew members upload videos or notch new high scores on a particular song.
“Def Jam Rapstar”‘s online leaderboards won’t just be based on how well you perform a song. Other users can vote to catapult your rendition to the top of the charts, too. And battle-hungry MCs needn’t worry, because you’ll be able to issue challenges to other “Rapstar” players as well. On top of all of that, you can play the part of promoter and get your Diddy on by hyping other performers in the “Rapstar” community. Like a rap-centric version of Foursquare, here’ll be a variety of badges and awards that you can sport on your profile. The social networking focus of “Rapstar” is impressive and will let you drill down user stats to area code, letting you see who the best user in your ‘hood is for a particular song.
The game will launch with 45 songs and the tracks detailed so far span the Old School, Golden Age and modern eras of hip-hop. “Rapstar” will be updating its jukebox weekly with about four to five songs, and fans should look for songs to be available about four to six weeks after they hit radio. Here’s a list of the tracks that have been revealed so far:
More tracks will be divulged as “Def Jam Rapstar” edges closer to its October 5th release date. Would-be MCs, start sharpening your freestyles now.