Dan The Automator Presents 2K7

Artist: Dan the AutomatorTitle: Dan The Automator Presents 2K7Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

After releasing arguably the best video game

soundtrack of 2005 (NBA 2K6: The Tracks) the folks at 2K Sports and Decon are back to try and reclaim the crown. With Dan The Automator Presents 2K7 (Decon), the lineup of MCs

this time around is even more impressive than last

year with E-40, Mos Def, Ghostface and more than a

dozen others all dropping exclusive verses about

balling. And with sole producer Dan The Automator at the helm with his synth-heavy beats, this soundtrack sounds more like a cohesive album rather than just a compilation. Amid all the updates made since 2K6, though, this soundtrack is neither superior nor inferior to its predecessor-it's just different.

The magic of 2K6: The Tracks was that everyone from Lyrics Born to The Roots was able to get gamers hyped-up without rapping directly about the art of hooping. Where 2K7 differs most is that every track (not including the Remix of Tribe's "Lyrics To Go") sees the MCs put themselves in the place of a baller on the court. The occasional problem with this scenario is that there's only so many ways an MC can talk about taking it to the rim and make it sound fresh. Still, there are some great moments on 2K7.

Surprisingly one of them comes from Fabolous (on "Ball Til You Fall"). Over The Automator's potent

stutter-step beat, he likens himself to "The Lakers during show time" with his laidback swagger. Another standout is the unforeseen collaboration of Evidence from the Dilated Peoples and Lupe Fiasco on the fast break inducing cut "Catch Me". And you can't really go wrong with a Ghostface and A.G. collabo ("2K007").

Sure there are a few lukewarm inclusions, like Slim Thug's not so convincing dedication to balling, "I Love This Game". But most of these tracks see The Automator and the respective MCs offer a highly customized approach that both gamers and hip-hoppers can equally enjoy. While 2K7 doesn't surpass 2K6 in

quality, it does add to the continual and increasing influence Hip-Hop is leaving on video game culture.