Thursday, March 17, 2011

Down Under - DJ Hero 2 Indie Hip-Hop Mix Pack Review

Well…color me surprised. For the umpteenth time.

Weren’t we supposed to be done with DJ Hero content? Weren’t we? Talks of closures, liquidations, and rumor of the future of FSG notwithstanding, there is new DJ Hero content up, seemingly against al odds. This means two things: Either they produced a TON of music slated for release before the bad news dropped, or these are the products of a studio that can’t and won’t stop. While I sit comfortably in my fandom and bet on the latter, this week’s pack is a strange one indeed. Honestly and for the first time, I have no idea what to expect from this “Indie Hip Hop Mix Pack”, because…well, I’ve never heard of ANY of these people.

Or their music.

Though, with names like Peanut Butter Wolf and Camu Tao, I have an itching feeling that I can only expect greatness.


Hopefully. While I welcome this pack with arms stretched wide, at the same time, I hope being blindsided by Freestyle Games is a good thing..

DJ Hero 2 "Indie Hip-Hop Mix Pack" (Downloadable Content)
For: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (Songs sold as individual tracks)
Publisher: Activision/Freestyle Games
Price: 640 Microsoft Points, $7.99 PSN, 300 Wii points (per track)
Release: 3/15/2010

Songs reviewed on Expert difficulty.

Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf - My World Premiere vs. Jaylib - The Red (Instrumental)"

Uh..right. While that isn’t the perfect way to start any review of a track, it’s the initial thought I had upon completing this mix for the first time. It’s a slow paced track that isn’t too challenging save for some scratches at the end, but My World Premiere’s old-school lyrics and cadence do sound fine over Jaylib’s beat for The Red, making the medley is serviceable if a bit unexciting. I was so put off by the track that I went and listened to the original tracks, and found that Charizma’s track had great lyrics but an okay beat. The Red on the other hand, had a beat was definitely better than whatever Jaylib was trying to spit. Combined like this, it’s actually the best of both worlds, but it isn’t enough to save the song. Sometimes it happens, every so often you’lll get a song that’s more fun to listen to than to play, but when the song and the track are middling, neither great, nor terrible, you just get something that exists. This song kind of just exists.

Rating: 2/5

The Perceptionists ft. Guru & Camu Tao - Party Hard vs. RJD2 – Ghostwriter

I was actually a bit at an advantage with this one, not realizing that I’ve heard “Ghostwriter” before..but with this epiphany came a shot of fear. I like RJD2’s droning beat on this one, but could I be in line for another slow paced, possibly dreary track? Thankfully, the Perceptionists answered with a loud NO! Party Hard’s lyrics are filled with attitude and braggadocio, and it does well to keep the sample filled Ghostwriter moving along at a brisk pace. When I say sample filled, I really mean it, and FSG knew what was up as well, matching this song with a track that’ll have you exercising the middle red button like there’s no tomorrow. Samples during scratches, samples during taps, held samples during scractches and…you get the idea. Finger dexterity. Hope you have a carpal tunnel pad installed in front of your turntable..

Rating: 4/5

Atmosphere - The Best Day (Remix by FSG)

I liked this. I really, really did. Call me crazy, because it isn’t the most exciting track out there, and listening to the preview, I’m sure many people will listen to this and wonder how it could translate into a fun DJ Hero track, but somehow, it just does. It works. Though I have no clue how the original sounds (though this sounds more like a beat juggle than a full on remix), what we have here is a song that’s hip hop through and through, telling a tale about a day gone wrong over a laid back beat. Scratches are at the forefront of this one, but everything added doesn’t detract from the lyrics one bit, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the few songs that can be sung without fear of having to compensate for stuttering samples at every turn. This was my favorite mix of the pack, though some may not agree with me. If you really like circa-90’s hip hop, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4/5

Aside from that turd (sorry Charizma, the original sounds better—don’t haunt me!) at the start of the pack, this was a pretty solid, if a little niche. Unfortunately, it may be a bit too niche for all but the deepest of Hip-Hop fans (who may not have this game), or even frequent DJ Hero players (who are looking for something more modern or electronic). So while being notoriously obscure is fine, perhaps a bit more care needs to be taken in selecting the next tracks. These are dark times for the developer. I’d hate for any of FSG’s new music to undersell since they’re likely trying to prove themselves, but this pack is something I can’t really recommend to anyone despite my enjoyment. While a love of music is paramount in enjoying this series, these songs have to ultimately be played, and they just aren’t that enjoyable in that respect. I’m pretty sure most other players will have the same hangup.

Overall: 6.5

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