The close of 2009 promises to bring Hip Hop and gaming together like never before. Scratch: The Ultimate DJ aims to bring authenticity to gaming's portrayal of Hip Hop, as its co-produced by deejay equipment giant Numark. In addition to its makers, Scratch has unified with Quincy Jones, III, better known as QD3 a three-decade veteran of Hip Hop in film and music production.
Speaking with HipHopDX Monday afternoon, QD3 explained how he got involved with Scratch: The Ultimate DJ. "I'm a huge tech geek. My music publishing company's name was Deep Technology Music, the company I did the 2Pac records and all that other stuff under. Technology has always been a huge focus for me; the intersection of technology and entertainment is probably my favorite place in the world." Through his existing film relationship with Weinstein/Genius Products, company executives brought Q to meet creators. "They put me in a meeting and said that they were working on a rhythm-based game that I might be interested in."
As someone whose career began as a break-dancer and deejay, QD3 was impressed with the game's alignment with the Hip Hop roots of creativity. "They showed me an early prototype. What really got me interested was the fact that, unlike other rhythm-based games, this game would actually allow the user to customize their game-play and the sound-sets. For instance, if you're playing other popular rhythm-based games, it's like Simon Says. You have to play along with the song verbatim. If you play one note wrong, then basically you get kicked off stage and booed and all that stuff. Whereas in our game, there are windows within the game-play that allows the user to do their own thing, adding their creativity. You'll get extra points for that." He continued, "In true spirit with urban culture and how Hip Hop has always been, it's about individuality and adding your own flare to things...this game leaves you space to do that."
The game also honors the challenging scratches pioneered by icons like DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Q-Bert and DJ Rectangle. "We've had all the different professional deejays come in and give us the algorhythms for hamster scratches, transformer scratches and all that kind of stuff. They're built in the game, so if you do one of those scratches properly, you'll get extra points. In addition to that, you can customize your scratch sounds. For instance, if you want to add your own voice, you can upload your own voice, tracks or whatever and match that up with the existing sounds." In addition to just interested novice deejays, this game appeals to production enthusiasts, "On top of that, we've licensed the actual multi-tracks to these games. Numark created the turntable in general; they also own Akai, which is the number one drum machine maker. You have rubberized MPC pads that you can trigger samples from, plus the turntable and the fader that works just like the real thing." QD3, who produced a number of records for 2Pac, LL Cool J and Tech N9ne, added, "It's almost like you're buying a production suite with the game."
Asked if Scratch may spark interest in gamers to take on deejaying and production, QD3 deduced, "The authenticity of this controller is going to allow people to get their feet wet in both production and deejaying. Even if you buy a professional deejay set, you're confined to two-track MP3's, whereas in our game, you're getting the multi-track."
The music in the game echoes that authenticity, with an array of Hip Hop sub-genres and styles. Whodini, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys and Del The Funkee Homosapien represent the old school, while Tech N9ne, Lil Wayne, Santigold, N.A.S.A., Kid Koala, Fergie and Murs are also reportedly included. "There's something in there for everybody. That's something we're very happy about and very proud of, creating a music list that was very true to the culture and [will] hip people to new music that deserves attention."
QD3 told HipHopDX that he's presently busy assembling the largest Hip Hop video archive library, and securing digital distribution deals to allow the footage to finally be seen. Having produced hits such as 2Pac's "To Live & Die In L.A." and "Lost Souls," the producer was asked if he would return to music, as seen with Rick Rubin in recent years. "I cut music, cold turkey, [a couple years] after 2Pac passed, in like '98. I cut music and went straight into film. Our first DVD broke our distributor's shipment records, so I sort of made a quick switch. I was really, really captivated by the whole filmmaking process because you can use more parts of your brain. I can't lie, the last year and a half, I've felt the itch. I've found a couple groups that I'm working with now, both in terms of production and management."
Although Q would not divulge names, he did reveal that he's working with one of Los Angeles brightest talents of 2009. "Not too long ago, i did a record with Nipsey Hussle [click to read]." He added, "It's gonna be on his album, and apparently it's one of his favorite songs."
Although Scratch: The Ultimate DJ's release date is still to be announced, QD3 did confirm with HipHopDX that his highly-anticipated Sundance-endorsed Lil Wayne documentary will soon be unveiled. "That'll be very soon."
To preview the game, view clips below: