Game Music, Reviews

It’s a Mad, MadWorld: Rap and Hip-Hop Music That Actually WORKS (Review)

March 15, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook It’s a Mad, MadWorld: Rap and Hip-Hop Music That Actually WORKS (Review)on Twitter

Our  past chat with PlatinumGames composer Naoto Tanaka turned up some interesting stories about secret aliases, hip-hop music in Japan, and of course, pimps. While the United States missed out on the promotional soundtrack released in Europe and Australia, Sumthing Else Music Works eventually came to the rescue with a US release, and more than any other soundtrack, this album was made for a US audience.

It’s no surprise that you’re going to find lots of hip-hop and rap here. There are twenty tracks that come in at just over 50 minutes, so while they’re not overly long, they sure pack a punch. With a variety of vocal talents layered over Tanaka’s catchy beats, this musical experiment really pays off.

Read our review of the MadWorld Official Soundtrack after the jump.

We talked quite a bit about OX in our interview, and with good cause: his voice graces half of the tracks on the album, starting with the smooth “Get it Up.” Chugging guitars are paired to sexy brass notes, creating a heavy yet suave backing for OX’s effective voice that reminds me of Jay-Z. “Body That,” on the other hand, is a bit more heavy with a deep-rooted bassline and a more desolate sound. OX’s rapid-fire rhymes build to a climax, but never really impose on the music.

And about the music, I can’t believe how good some of Tanaka’s beats are. For a newcomer to the hip-hip genre, he’s definitely done a great job capturing the energy and crafting some catchy backings for nearly every track on the album. Even the few instances where the vocal talent is lacking are tolerable thanks to music that stands on its own against the vocals.

Now that I’m done with my rant, it’s back to OX with “Let’s Go!,” an ethnic-flavored track. I don’t really care for OX’s mechanical delivery of the verses, but the chorus section really hits the spot with some nice melodic work. Later, “Crimson Rain” comes in as an ominous track with a foreboding string intro before deep bass and OX’s controlled but vicious lyrics take the point. During the chorus section, OX lowers his pitch, rapping in a deep voice which provides a really cool contrast. “Ride!!” takes a 70s funk approach with electric guitars, disco string stabs, and a groovy bass. Interestingly, OX continues to rap despite the change in musical genre, which produces a rather unique sound. The final track, titled “Soul,” starts out as 80s-esque synth pop with lots of upbeat synth work and OX’s steady rapping, closing the album out on a positive note.

Now it’s on to the other contributors, starting with Doujah Raze’s 3 tracks. His voice is much more coarse, matching perfectly with the grungy guitar work on “Come With It.” “deathwatch” is one of my favorites tracks on the album with its dark but playful descending string melody and some fat synth bass notes that works wonders during the chorus section where Doujah Raze threatens “It’s a mad, mad world, and you’re caught in the game. Put your life on the line, I put a hole in your brain.”

Next, S.O.U.L. Purpose contributes a single track titled “Survival,” which has a sort of happy-go-lucky progression that works well with his (relatively) higher-pitched voice. Optimus gets the title track, “MAD WORLD,” but it’s really not one of the stronger tracks on the album. It sounds like an evil rock circus with cheesy rap/alternative vocals. Wordsmith sports a similar sound with “Death & Honor,” but the skipping pace of the track and guttural rock and synth sounds are a much better match for this vocal style. BandyLeggz is the only female of the pack, debuting with “You Don’t Know Me.” Her voice reminds me of Gwen Stefani, but not as good. It goes back and forth between sweet and angry, but it isn’t particular catchy.

The last rapper I’ll mention happens to be my favorite. You should remember him from the pimp discussion we had with Tanaka, but in case you don’t remember, his name is Sick YG. He gets three tracks on the album, all of which are excellent. His first, “Aint’ That Funny” is my favorite with its Asian-inspired backing that works in some cool woodwinds and head-bopping hi-hats. I swear Sick YG sounds like Sir Mix-a-Lot on this track (can you get any cooler than that?). His “pimp” track, “Look Pimpin’!,” is also amazingly cool as Sick YG weaves rapid, high-pitched rhymes together to create a smooth sound fitting of a pimp. I really like the auto-tune manipulation on the vocals during the chorus section.

Well, what can I say. There’s not a game out there that implements rap and hip-hop better than MadWorld. Naoto Tanaka really shines here, creating some truly catchy melodies, and the efforts of OX, Sick YG, Doujah Rize, and Wordsmith in particular are commendable. This soundtrack could have gone wrong in so many ways, but the blend of memorable music tracks with seriously cool rap lyrics really nails it. I highly recommend picking this one up, as it’s available both digitally and physically from Sumthing Else. It’s only $16, and well worth the price.

Are you a fan of any other games with rap or hip-hop music that actually worked? Did you take note of the MadWorld when you were playing through the game?

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