204: Texture the Beat

Texture the Beat

Forget 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. Hip hop and videogames have had a longer and more meaningful relationship than recent crossovers would lead you to believe. Brian Rowe analyzes how the hip hop culture and aesthetic has made its way into some pretty diverse titles.

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I sincerely loved every word of this article.

It's a shame that Western game developers still haven't made a game that fully embraces hip-hop. Games like PaRappa the Rapper and Jet Grind Radio were some of the first to attempt this and succeed, but only with a Japanese aesthetic. A Western, rap-oriented game still has yet to be made.

While the West does have games like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand and Def jam to satisfy our thirst for hip-hop, they only capture the glamor of being a successful hip-hop artist, rather than capture the spirit of hip-hop music.

Again, thanks for writing this article. If you've ever been on a forum, it would come to no surprise to you that most gamers hate hip-hop. Hopefully this article will open some eyes!

Great work. Keep writing to the Escapist :)

You have no idea how much of a nostalgia trip I went on just reading the words "PaRappa the Rapper". Man, it's been awhile. Also, I'm very much in favor of sampling, especially when one samples beats from an entirely unrelated, non-hip-hop song, and starts rapping over John Coltrane's version of "My Favorite Things" or something.

I think I might need to go dig up my Genesis and play ToeJam and Earl again.

I'm surprised there was no mention of Wu-Tang Shaolin Style in the article. The description of the DefJam series reminded me about that. My dad and his friends played that all the time back when the PS1 was all the rage. I gotta see if it's still around somewhere back at the home...

Surprise when you mentioned Afro Samurai you didn't mention the RZA. His production on the original series and Resurrection were sublime. Definitley agree with the themes you highlighted on. I'd be interested to find out what are your hip-hop influences.

PaRappa the Rapper wasn't the first game to dive into hip hop. ToeJam and Earl were rocking gold chains and b-boy poses back in 1992 ...

I don't know about that, I'd consider ToeJam and Earl to be a lot closer to Funk/Soul than Hip-Hop. They're musical cousins, but not quite the same.

Go ahead, have a listen. Listening to that track is better than playing the game anyway :P

Interesting you didn't mention Marc Ecko's game "Getting Up". Possiably one of the best mixes of Hip Hop culture and gaming I have ever played. The game wasn't some tossed together wreck that simply leached off the star power of Marc Ecko's, but it was well put together, had a sick as story, and was just plain fun to play. The settings, and the fun of the game was amazing. It was a lot like Jet Grind Radio/Jet Set Radio, but more heavily intrenched in the darker aspects of the hip hop rap scene.

HardRockSamurai:
I sincerely loved every word of this article.

It's a shame that Western game developers still haven't made a game that fully embraces hip-hop. Games like PaRappa the Rapper and Jet Grind Radio were some of the first to attempt this and succeed, but only with a Japanese aesthetic. A Western, rap-oriented game still has yet to be made.

While the West does have games like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand and Def jam to satisfy our thirst for hip-hop, they only capture the glamor of being a successful hip-hop artist, rather than capture the spirit of hip-hop music.

Again, thanks for writing this article. If you've ever been on a forum, it would come to no surprise to you that most gamers hate hip-hop. Hopefully this article will open some eyes!

Great work. Keep writing to the Escapist :)

Wasn't it called Jet Set Radio? I loved that game with a passion.

WrongSprite:
Wasn't it called Jet Set Radio?

Sorry, I got used to calling it by the North American title, Jet GRIND Radio. Jet Set Radio is the official title of the game.

WrongSprite:
I loved that game with a passion.

Same here :)

With games like Blood on the Sand coming out, it's not hard to see why a lot of gamers have grown a distaste for hip-hop in their games.

That said, hip-hop definitely does have a place in gaming, and I think as the market expands we'll see much more game developers both try to cash in on hip-hop as well as tailor a game towards that audience in a way that is meaningful.

Getting Up was one of the first games that came to mind during planning, and was the beginning of an imposing list of potential examples that had to be dissected. While Getting Up is a drastically overlooked game, its strength is in the presentation of politics and themes more than artistic style, which was what I was focusing on here.

Someone asked about my hip-hop influences. Saul Williams, Kool Keith, Lady Sovereign, Prince Paul, and Del are consistent favorites. I also have a guilty soft spot for Missy Elliott.

yeah i love this article

its great to see someone knows the different between rap and hip hop.

I love jet grind radio/jet set radio future

Great Article, brought back a few memories

Jet Set Radio Future, the sequel to Jet set radio, was the very first game I got for my xbox. it's only reminiscing now do I realise how important the music was as part of the game. It completely immersed you in the experienced and added so much to it, I remember humming the songs for weeks and long after I got a new game and did not play for a while. I can't think of a game of recent years that has done this.

The games bold colour and animation made it stand out and the characters were actually pretty likeable. Compare that to "blood on the sand" which trots out the same generic gritty graphics which are becoming all too common place with the most arrogant game character of recent years (Mr Cent of course) and one of the lest likeable and I'd have to say that in terms of hip-hop and games (just like with actually hip-hop) things have taken a step backwards.

Also Toe Jam and Earl was a great game, and the most recent one (T&E 3) provided great mutiplayer options.

 

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