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Def Jam Makes Hip-Hop History with Rapstar Video Game

Def Jam Rapstar, the latest installment in the Def Jam Interactive platinum selling series of titles, which includes Def Jam Icon and Def Jam Vendetta. Rock music successfully crossed over to the video game business with mega-hits like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, yet Hip-Hop has not had a presence. Rapstar fills a void in the $60 billion dollar video game industry, which up until now lacked titles specifically about Hip-Hop music. During the E3 2010 video game conference, Def Jam Co-Founder Russell Simmons told reporters, “Cool kids like Hip-Hop all over the world. And they needed this game.”

At its heart Rapstar is a Hip-Hop Karaoke game, distributed by Konami who found much success with their own Karaoke Revolution title. Def Jam Rapstar allows rappers and R&B singers to perform duets together, a first for Karaoke video games. Hip-Hop hits like Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” are featured in the game, alongside a wide range of artists including Drake, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, and Kanye West. Distilling 30 years of Hip-Hop music was a challenge, a rep for 4mm Games told AllHipHop.com. “The meetings about the songs were heated. Rapstar ends up going all the way back to 1988 with Salt and Pepa’s ‘Push It’ up to today with modern artists like T.I.”  Def Jam raves about Rapstar and boasts about its impact. “Hip-Hop is a global phenomenon that has permeated pop culture to become the most important youth movement of our generation. We are proud to deliver the first authentic Hip-Hop music experience to gamers that will undoubtedly change the way music games are played,” stated Kevin Liles, President and CEO of Def Jam Enterprises. “It is an incredible opportunity to work with 4mm Games and Terminal Reality in developing Def Jam Rapstar. So show us what you got!”4mm Games is a new developer created by the two co-founders of Rockstar games, best known for its hit Grand Theft Auto series. Together with Terminal Reality (Developers of Atari’s Ghostbusters and Majesco’s BloodRayne) they created new voice recognition software which grades each player’s performance based on pitch, timing, and verbal accuracy. Many Karaoke video games can currently be mumbled through to trick the software into high scores, but Rapstar promises to recognize lyrical flow and wordplay even on Twista tracks, demanding a new level of accuracy for singing games. Rapstar is available as disc only but will also offer a bundle which includes a microphone. Using the console’s camera, the game records a 30 second performance video which can be uploaded to the DefJamRapstar.com online community and shared with player’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. The videos are viewable by other users and voted on in online battles. The game also includes a Freestyle mode which allows emcees to record their own hottest sixteen bars over exclusive beats by hit makers like Just Blaze, DJ Premier and 9th Wonder, among others.

DMG Clearance in Delaware did the music and video publishing clearances for the game. Owner Deborah Mannis-Gardner got to see a Rapstar demo during her work on the title. “It was cool how Rapstar actually teaches different rap skills as you progress through the levels,” said Mannis-Gardner.

The game ships with 45 hit songs to perform and offers weekly downloadable content which includes additional tracks. Hip-Hop icon Redman, who is featured in the game, was quoted as saying at E3: “I’m a big gamer, and all the work Def Jam been putting out as far as games, they been winning. The new DefJam Rapstar, I like it because it shows how much you know about Hip-Hop.”  Def Jam Rapstar is in stores now, on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii consoles. 

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