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“Dan The Automator Presents 2K7” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Ask any of my friends, I hate basketball. I don’t like watching it and am absolutely horrible at the sport. Likewise, I’m not a big fan of video games. With that being said, I should by all means hate anything having to do with 2K Sports’ NBA 2K7. Fortunately I gravitate towards hip hop based soundtracks, so this works out nicely…funny how things work out like that. The albums’ tracks, all produced and composed by Dan “The Automator” Nakamura, bounce about incautiously between credible MCs but unfortunately, as a whole, miss the mark completely.

Hip hop culture and basketball have essentially become one, with the game’s brightest stars fashioning grillz, street garb and some even having attempted the recording process on their own. No other sport can identify with a musical genre so closely as hip hop and basketball, and as such the release of a formal album seems fitting. But with that being said, 2K7 should have never been released.

The reason being that there has always been a separation between the two, the music and the sport, which spurred further interest for both, with the question being – what would happen if the two found common ground and collided? Unfortunately that common ground can effectively be summed up through the lyrics of E-20 & San Quinn’s “Baller Blockin,” “Supersonics in Seattle, tough place to visit, you better play hard cause they love to win it.” The track, and others like it deliver uninspired line after line just like this; all being fine for a video game, not for a full blown release.

Years ago when the initial Tony Hawk video game was released it founded itself as somewhat of a first mover, offering the player a soundtrack suited to the tastes of the sport’s stars. That being said, the game was left with an edge and credible feel as it renewed songs, past and present, for a newer younger listening audience. Before you knew it, you had a group of early teens singing along to the Dead Kennedys and Suicidal Tendencies. That is the key to what’s missing in the album. It doesn’t explore anything and merely coughs up lyrics that were once choked down for being to crudely simplistic.

There are exceptions however, including “Anchor Man,” by Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na, and a track from a momentarily reunited A Tribe Called Quest. Sadly, it wasn’t something more meaningful that brought the legendary hip hop group back together, but simply money; though that translates nicely as the ongoing theme for the album. If 2K7 had an ongoing playful theme that closed any gap between the listener, the musician and the video game it would have found success. It didn’t however, and as a result the final product is a group of soulless tracks, each having been produced with theme and lyrical presence taking second place to what brought each artist to the project, finances.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]