Video games and ring tones have become the lifeblood of the music industry. With only a handful of artists allowed to appear on the radio on “video” channels anymore, it is the only way to really break groups into the masses; which is why it is with more than a little delight to be able to talk about the upcoming release of 2K Sports’ new NBA 2K6 Soundtrack.
With music that was created solely for the game (you’ll hear the name dropped throughout many of the songs, but don’t let that detract from your listening pleasure), 2K6 offers a bevy of independent artists a chance to get their shine on. With tracks from folks like Little Brother, Aesop Rock, Lyrics Born, and the Hieroglyphics, you know already this isn’t your average video game back drop. Okay, they also include joints by Common, The Roots, and the Funk Doctor Spock (Redman), who aren’t exactly known as underground, but do remember that none of them are known as commercial radio darlings, either.
Starting and ending with instrumental madness crafted by the indelible RJD2 (“Schoolyard Scrimmage Intro” and “Schoolyard Scrimmage Outro”) you can already get a sense of what is taking place here. It’s like a Scion Sampler undistilled.
“Big Money Talk” is LB at his rhyme boasting best. The guitar chords and stark percussion highlight his verbal barrage like a perfect marriage. His Quaanum labelmates, Blackalicious deliver “Excellent,” showing once again why Gift of Gab is one of the dopest rappers ever, and why Chief Excel is a producer to be reckoned with.
The Root’s, for their part, serve up “Set ‘Em On Fire,” a hardcore, heavily distorted guitar joint that is more like their first album than anything released around Tipping Point. A cameo by Dice Raw only enhances the proceedings.
When Aceyalone drops the energetic, synth poppin and bass break “Doin’ My Job,” you realize that you must be in hip hop heaven. Add to that Jean Grae’s “The Jam” and Zion I’s “Ride” and you just know that you can’t be without this record. It’s only overkill to mention contributions by the 9th Wonder led Little Brother and the post Be Common shouting out B-boys and hustler’s alike on the grimy, “Boogie Down Bronx” sampled “The Movement.”
What’s not to like about this record? Nothing.
Well, except maybe that its only 12 full songs long. This is right up there with the Okay Player Compilation and Chops’ Virtuosity.
Okay, the graphics haven’t been displayed yet, but if they are anything like the aural experience, you know you have nothing to fear from “gamings” next big thing. Ring tones are about to be elevated to a whole new level! (Now just imagine what that tour will be like…)