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
series, the number of basketball games utilizing Hip Hop music is growing
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.