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F*ck Rock Band and Guitar Hero, Where’s Rap Band and Hip-Hop Hero?

There’s an nteresting article over at the Freakonomics blog on about Rock Band and Guitar Hero, and how the video game industry is saving the music business. This is not really a new sentiment, people have been ruminating on what the popularity of Rock Band and Guitar Hero has been doing for the music business since the games hit the market. The great thing about this article, though, is that there are some actual statistics provided that prove just what a boon these games have been. A couple quick bullet points, quoted directly from the article

–”Weezer’s ‘My Name is Jonas,’ a song originally released in 1994, saw a tenfold increase in sales when included in Guitar Hero 3.”

–”A special version of Guitar Hero focused entirely on Aerosmith’s music resulted in more revenue for the band than any individual Aerosmith album.”

–”Motley Crüe’s single ‘Saints of Los Angeles’ premiered in the Rock Band Music Store day and date with its single release, and it sold more than five times as many units there as it did on iTunes in its first week.

–”Back in July, twelve of the The Who’s greatest hits were released for Rock Band, and in two weeks, fans purchased over 715,000 tracks. During the same two-week period, all twelve tracks experienced a 159 percent increase in SoundScan sales. (SoundScan measures physical CD sales, as well as digital music sales.)”

Holy snikeys! With results like that, it’s a wonder that Harmonix (the company that makes Rock Band, and first created Guitar Hero) hasn’t rushed back to their lab to create a Hip-Hop version of the game. I mean, can we live?

Perhaps not. See, there’s all types of legal problems with making a rap version of games like these, because hip-hop music incorporates so many elements of other’s peoples tracks, in the form of sampling. Some of the most famous hip-hop tracks, at least the ones people would want to play in a room with their friends, are built on samples of other musician’s works.

That’s not to say there aren’t a fair amount of hip-hop tunes that are completely original. There are. But while playing something like Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” might be cool, it might also be incredibly boring, considering that the beat– like a lot of hip-hop tracks– is just a continuous loop. So a hip-hop version of rock band would be like a real stripped down version, call it rock band lite, where you really don’t have to do shit except play the same thing over and over for four minutes.

Plus, what would the instruments in Rap Band be? Would you get like a little toy version MPC and a keyboard?

I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I’ve heard a rap version of these games is being developed though. It sounds logical. Would people gravitate towards it? I think so. As simple as some rap tunes are, I know a gang of folks– people who ain’t really into all that rock shit– would love to do a rendition of “The Message” , as opposed to some random rock song.

And that’d be awesome for the pioneers of hip-hop as well. This would be a great opportunity to have their music heard by a younger generation, in a much more influential and endearing way than something as short-lived as an installment of VH1′s Hip-Hop Honors.

Like, there’s a new game coming out based on the Beatles music.

Could you imagine a Run DMC version of Rap Band? How about a Wu-Tang Clan version?


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