Editorials/Rants/Ramblings

Rumors of a new Def Jam game – What I think.

So it’s come to this. This is definitely a topic that I have been meaning to touch on lately. I also want to touch on the Def Jam games, but this piece won’t be a review or retrospective on them, though I may make some references about them. No, this is more about the rumors that have been circulating for a while about a possible new Def Jam fighting game in the near future. Keep this in mind, these are rumors based on speculation, so I don’t know if there is any fact to them. But I will state my viewpoint on this.

The Def Jam games are definitely held in high regard and even so to this day, at least when talking about “Def Jam Vendetta” and “Def Jam Fight For NY.” A lot of people like to pretend that “Def Jam ICON” didn’t happen. Personally, I never played that game, but I will touch more on that later. But when talking about “Vendetta” and “Fight For NY,” they were definitely praised when they both came out and even when discussing them now, they still get the same praise. I know that we are far removed from those days as the two games came out in the early-to-mid-2000s, especially when nearing two decades since their releases.

Now these rumors have been going on as far back as sometime in the early or mid-2010s, because I recall seeing some video in either 2014 or 2015 that talked about a new Def Jam game in the works. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the video, but I will show a video that HipHopDX had posted rather recently about the rumors surrounding the potential new Def Jam fighting game.

If I find the video on the earlier rumors, I will do another post on that, but in the meantime, I will discuss my views on this. In my personal opinion, I would not mind, if actually would love to see a new Def Jam fighting game if, and only if it was done by the same developers that did “Def Jam Vendetta” and “Def Jam Fight For NY.” Hell, maybe Yuke’s, the people that did the WWE games even dating as far back as the first Smackdown game could do it, I would not mind that at all. That is if they could implement their wrestling style into more of a street-fighting style. Yes, I am aware that they did the UFC games from 2009 to the early-2010s, but I never played them, so I don’t know. I may have to see how they did with mixed martial arts in those games.

As for anything else, well, even though I have been a hip-hop fan for as long as I can remember, I really wonder at this point who would be put in the game. When looking at the Def Jam games from the 2000s, it really does date those games. For example, “Def Jam Vendetta” had the likes of DMX, Ludacris, Method Man, Redman, Capone, N.O.R.E., etc. When “Def Jam Fight For NY” came out the following year, there was a bigger roster with not just rappers signed to Def Jam at the time, but also ones who weren’t on the label but managed to get in, like Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe, Xzibit, Busta Rhymes, Sean Paul, etc. Hell, there were even non-rappers in it like Danny Trejo, Carmen Electra, Henry Rollins, Omar Epps, Kimora Lee (though I can speculate that she was in it because she was married to Russell Simmons at the time), among others. This is not even getting into the fact that both games had original/fictional characters in them.

But regarding the potential roster, I am not sure what to say about that. I am mostly unfamiliar with a lot of the current acts, or at least the acts that have been relevant the past few years, especially when talking about the hot acts from the 2010s to now. Sure, I could see the likes of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, etc. If it was up to me, I probably would try doing the scenario from the second game with the “crew warfare” theme and have Black Hippy fight Odd Future, as well as Roc Nation. Maybe even bring back the character of D-Mob from the first two games, as long as it doesn’t follow the style of “Def Jam ICON” with its use of adding music to the fighting, and also the storyline involving building a label, which didn’t relate to the fighting.

All I could say is that I would be all for it if the game was done right. Even if the game was to have current rap acts, I wouldn’t mind it if the gameplay was solid and had a good theme and feel to it. I could even tell you that even when playing “Fight For NY,” though I wasn’t a big fan of Sean Paul or Bone Crusher, at least at that time, I didn’t mind playing as them because it wasn’t about their music but rather about their fighting styles in the games (though I will say that Bone Crusher’s special move was hilarious looking back, as well as his pre-match quote). I wouldn’t mind it either if it was just a remake of the first two games. Sure, I still have the two games for PS2 even to this day, but I would love to see how the developers could improve on the graphics. If this game does happen, I would just want a good game, that’s all.

In the meantime, I think I will cover something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while. I think it’s time to do a couple of reviews/retrospectives on the two Def Jam games from the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox era. Maybe I should also cover what could possibly the precursor to those games that came out a few years prior, “Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style.” Maybe I should also do something that I never thought I would play, let alone cover, “Def Jam ICON.” I shall see. Stay tuned.

Standard
Album Reviews

Album Review: Flatlinerz – U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority)

Year of Release: 1994

Record Label: Def Jam Recordings

It has been three months since I have done anything for this site. I haven’t been up on my stuff lately. I even had plans not too long ago, and they are still on the table, too, but I have not gotten around to it. Also, I must note that I had planned on writing about this subject around this time last year, in honor of Halloween, even though I am sure that the sub-genre for this album has quite a catalog that it isn’t necessary (More on this later), but I still wanted to do it during this time of year.

Why would I have to do this album around this time, especially with horrorcore being a somewhat common sub-genre in rap? Well, the main reason is that I wanted to, and another is that this album sort of kicked off the genre to some degree. Yes, I know that there were other horrorcore rappers that existed before this album came out, like Brotha Lynch Hung (Sacramento represent!) and Esham, but it could be argued that this album was an attempt at making it mainstream. I will also note that I remember watching some special on MTV in 2001 (Yes, even in that time, there were still programs related to music, even though reality shows were also common on that channel then) about hip-hop and mentioned the genre of horrorcore rap and mention the Flatlinerz. Months later, I read a review of the Bones soundtrack and the writer made a reference to this album, as well as the Gravediggaz.

Years ago, I went and bought this album, and I have to say that it was a definitely worthy of my money. But why is another question. After listening to a lot of the tracks on this album, some of them reminded me of songs from Onyx. Truth be told, a lot of this album may have the feel of your basic hip-hop album, at least when hearing the beats. The lyrics, on the other hand, had more of horror-like feel. For example, when hearing “Good Day To Die,” “718,” and “Flatline,” the beat seemed reminiscent to some songs from Redman or EPMD. Then you had tracks like “Sonic Boom,” which sounded like an Onyx track with some of the background yelling. Funny notes on that song, I kind of liked the minor reference to the Number 12 song from Sesame Street and if you listen closely to the end of the song, you can hear a sample “Sonic Boom” from “Street Fighter II.” The producers did a good job on that bit.

For the most part, the album felt like a street-style rap album with the musical production, but the lyrical content had more of the horror elements to it, at least in some ways. There was some violent content in the lyrics, but it’s really not that much different than hearing some violent lyrics in gangsta rap. If you want to talk which songs had more of a horror-like vibe, look no further than the album’s three singles, “Satanic Verses,” “Live Evil,” and “Rivaz of Red.” Actually, it was more in the second half of the album when the horror-like elements as a whole started to really kick off. “Takin’ ‘Em Underground” is a good example of a horrorcore song. The rappers’ verses combined both lyrics related to the subject matter, along with the delivery to make it sound a little scary. The beat even sounded like it came from a horror film. The rest of the album had a similar feel, that is also including the interludes along the way.

Now that I think about it, being that this was released during the days when cassettes were still prevalent, I wonder if the songs were split into halves to depict what to expect on one side and what to expect on the other side. Then again, I wonder about “Scary Us,” which was one of the first songs on this album. That one had a horror vibe, but it was also mixed with street-like hip-hop beats used for it.

I read in the liner notes for “Rivaz of Red” that the song had a sample of “Tonight’s Da Night” from Redman, as well as “Thriller” from Michael Jackson, but I swear that I hear the intro bit to “Don’t Be Cruel” from Bobby Brown in the sample. It sounds just like it that it has to be the bit in the intro to that album.

I read how that was some controversy about this album. Apparently, there was some speculation how these guys were Satan worshippers and it really put a damper in the sales for this album. It’s a shame, really, because this album kind of mixed styles of East Coast NY hip-hop with the horrorcore genre, when talking about some graphic violent depictions of murder, as well as some references to the occult. It really isn’t that much different from anything from the east coast at that time, and it was nice touch in adding horrorcore elements to it.

If you want to read the article on how this group and album was “misunderstood,” click here.

Before I close out this review, check out the music videos for the three singles. I also must note that the intro of the “Satanic Verses” video was the intro to “Live Evil.”

I highly recommend this album.

4/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Satanic Verses
  2. Live Evil
  3. Rivaz of Red
  4. Takin’ ‘Em Underground
  5. Good Day To Die

Honorable Mentions: “Scary-Us” and “Flatline.”

 

Standard