And 1 Streetball - The Videogame Soundtrack

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Video games have come a long way in the last 5 years, and Hip Hop has been brought to the forefront - especially in sports games. NBA 2K6 boasted acts like Lyrics Born, the "Jeanius" Jean Grae, Common and Aesop Rock. But while EA Sports has been using Hip Hop for years in its Madden series, the number of basketball games utilizing Hip Hop music is growing exponentially.

Ubisoft and the AND 1 Streetball team got together to create a more mainstream atmosphere for their gaming platform. Now that video games have their own soundtracks, they're becoming increasingly better and easier to listen to. Exclusives tracks from Freeway, Kool G Rap and everyone's favorite southern rapper, Bun B, make for a somewhat assorted collection of music. While NBA 2K6 relied more on its "underground" artists and NBA Live 2003 utilized Just Blaze's talents for an audio backdrop, the creative difference that sets this CD apart is the distinction between artists, not simply from one coast or from one label, but a mixture of many styles, regions and their sounds. The Bay is represented by newcomer Turf Talk, Bun B does his thing for the south, G. Rap does NY proud, and Freeway comes through for Philly. Even Cleveland gets some support in the form of Ray Cash.

Instead of top-notch production, brand new freestyles or genuine radio-ready songs, you get exactly what the album offers: a soundtrack. Just because the music is good enough for you to crossover, fake left and shoot the J to, that doesn't mean you should drop the ten spot to get it. The music is perfect for your Xbox or PS2, because while you're breaking ankles on the court, the rhythms will give you something to nod your head to - whether or not you can accept the unmotivated Clipse that just don't bring "You Got it 4 Cheap" class. The nameless artists on the soundtrack become the faceless with their redundant b-ball rhymes about dribbling. Bun B re-uses his patented 'crossover' reference on "Hard in the Paint" and tracks from BG and Smitty fall short, while Rhymefest, Freeway and Devin the Dude all bring their A game, hoping to catch a few ears every time there's a loading screen.

The AND 1 Streetball Soundtrack is what it is - a soundtrack for a basketball game with great musicians. I can't tell you to buy the game, but it might be worth it, considering you'll get the music and the game in one place.

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