The Fighters of Def Jam Vendetta
We start our daily look at the fighters of Def Jam Vendetta
GameSpot will be spotlighting the fighters in Def Jam Vendetta--EA and AKI's marriage of hip-hop and wrestling--in a daily feature starting today. In this feature, which will run up to the game's April 1 release on the GameCube and PlayStation 2, we'll be taking a look at the hip-hop artists and some of the original characters that make up the game's roster of more than 40 fighters. Every day you can expect to find information on the various fighters and video footage of their various moves.
We start things out with a look at DMX, a rap renaissance man whose career includes platinum albums and action films.
Day 1: DMX »
Day 2: Keith Murray »
Day 3: WC »
Day 4: Capone »
Day 5: NORE »
Day 6: Scarface »
Day 7: Ludacris »
Day 8: Ghostface »
Day 9: Funkmaster Flex »
Day 10: Joe Budden »
Day 11: Redman »
Day 12: Method Man »
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: DMX
Full name: Earl Simmons aka Dark Man X
Weight: 205 lbs
Ruff Ryder Anthem
For My Dogs
"Y'all think this cat can really handle the dog?"
Though he has recently announced his retirement from hip-hop to "get more into the word," DMX's 18-year music career has produced a number of memorable hits, including "Party Up," "Slippin," "It's On," "Ruff Ryders Anthem," and "Get At Me Dog." In the past three years alone, DMX has topped the charts with two albums debuting at number one in the same year and has been featured in two record-breaking national tours--Survival of the Illest and Hard Knock Life. Just as impressive, the "And Then There Was X" album went platinum five times.
But DMX's career hasn't been solely limited to music. In fact, the Def Jam artist has appeared in a number of movies. He appeared alongside action star Steven Segal in Exit Wounds, which earned $35 million in its first week. DMX has also starred in director Hype Williams' Belly and, most recently, Cradle 2 the Grave with Jet Li. Now he's appearing in video games in Electronic Arts' Def Jam: Vendetta as one of several artists from the Def Jam label sent in to do battle in an underground wrestling network. DMX provided voice-over for his video game persona.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Keith Murray
Full Name: Keith Murray
Weight: 185 lbs
Oh My Goodness
"Hey you, come here! I'll smack the flava out your mouth."
Keith Murray first rose to prominence in the rap world in 1994 with the release of his first single, "The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World." He followed up with his first full-length album, named after the single, in 1995. The album quickly went gold and established Murray as an artist to watch. His second and third albums, Enigma and It's a Beautiful Thing, cemented his reputation as a rapper, songwriter, and musician.
Murray is also one of the founding members of the Def Squad, a rap trio that also features former EPMD member Erick Sermon and rapper/producer Redman. The group's first release, El Nino, debuted in 1998 and featured the hit singles "Full Cooperation," "The Game," and "Rhymin' Wit Biz."
Following up on his successes in the field of music, Murray lent his likeness and voice to his virtual self in Electronic Arts' Def Jam: Vendetta. Murray is one of several Def Jam artists who join in during the game's story mode.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: WC
Full name: William L. Calhoun Jr.
Weight: 240 lbs
A Real G
The Shadiest One
"What the hell you doin' here, busta? You way out your league, feel me?"
The master of the crip walk, or c-walk, WC has quickly catapulted into the spotlight as a premier hip-hop artist. He got his start back in 1989 on the Priority Records label with his debut album, Low Profile. Shortly thereafter, he started rolling with The MAAD Circle as well as other high-profile hip-hop artists like Mack 10 and Ice Cube. WC's last album, The Shadiest One, reached the number two position on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart with songs like "Just Clownin'" and "Cheddar," which he performed with the Westside Connection.
WC's latest work, Ghetto Heisman, should prove to be just as popular, with tracks like "The Streets," featuring a chorus from Nate Dogg. The album also features a remix with lyrics from Snoop Dog and Xzibit. Like the rest of the Def Jam crew, WC provided his voice for the game. He also provided a crip-walking exhibition so that the development team could add it to his arsenal of wrestling moves.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Capone
Full Name: Kiam Holley
Golden Glove Blitz
Red Hot Ride
Fists of Fury
Make some noise for ashy knuckles man.
Capone is one half of the multitalented, highly respected duo, CNN. Capone and his partner NORE jumped onto the music scene in 1997 with their debut, The War Report, which sold nearly 500,000 copies.
They later reunited to release The Reunion. Now, Capone is part of the Def Jam family and will be releasing his debut solo album in 2003.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: NORE
Full Name: Victor Santiago
"NORE busts out a rhyme."
Always known for keeping a biography of Manuel Noriega with him at all times, the then-16-year-old Victor "NORE" Santiago was nicknamed after the Panamanian general he emulated while serving time for attempted murder. But NORE was destined for more than a life behind bars. He took up penning raps while in jail, trading verses with future partner Capone in Bible class. After his release from prison, the Lefrak, Queens, native found himself in the midst of an overdramatized East Coast-West Coast feud, fueled by his verse on "LA, LA," the response record to Tha Dogg Pound's dis record "New York, New York."
Alongside affiliates Capone and Mobb Deep, NORE captured the attention of a reeling hip-hop underground that championed the rapper as the unofficial defender of NY hip-hop. Later that year, the group was signed to Tommy Boy Records and subsequently released their debut and five-mic classic The War Report. The group's brand of explosive realism earned them instant credibility as urban survivalists.
Five years and three albums later (NORE, Melvin Flynt Da Hustla, The Reunion), hip-hop's official "Whut-Whut" man has made his move to hip-hop's official "Whut-Whut" label. As the newest member of the Def Jam Records roster, NORE is armed with a rekindled spirit and the momentum of a smash summer single and third solo effort, Grimey...God's Favorite.
NORE is also working on another CNN album, a straight-to-video movie (which he shot himself), and the long-awaited follow up to NORE, which is tentatively titled NORE...Again. With the contribution of his voice and likeness to Def Jam: Vendetta, NORE joins the rest of the Def Jam crew in adding their unique touch to EA's upcoming game.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Scarface
Full Name: Brad Jordan
In Cold Blood
The Face Club
"Oh you're about to get your ass beat."
Scarface first stepped onto the rap scene with his Houston cohorts the Geto Boys back in '90, and he turned heads a year later with his arctic delivery on the classic single "Mind Playing Tricks on Me." But once the artist formerly named Mr. Scarface went solo in '91, released the gold-selling LPs Mr. Scarface Is Back ('91) and World Is Yours Diary ('93), and then scored platinum success with his third solo release, Diary ('94), the rap world was hooked on the ex-Houston hustler. There wasn't any other rapper who brought across such dark images so vividly and spoke about the fiery bottoms of hell with such a frozen tongue. Hip-hop never saw him coming, and now they keep coming back.
Fans flock to him and his new releases. The only difference is many of his fans are his peers. You'd be hard-pressed to find a rhyme heavyweight who hasn't graced a Face album. Ice Cube, Tupac, Jay-Z, Too Short, Daz, Kurupt, Redman, and UGK have all collaborated with Mr. Face. This has allowed him to extend his status from H-town diplomat to global ambassador for rap. He brought the world to the American Geto.
But that's Face's worth in the rap sector of notepads and vocal booths. His living legacy surpasses that. On rap music's flip side, Brad Jordan is a boss in the hip-hop label juggernaut that is Def Jam Records. Two years ago he was anointed president of their southern division, Def Jam South. And in alignment with the success of his recording career, Scarface scored big from the start of his exec tenure. His first signee, the rambunctiously engaging ATL representer Ludacris, sold 3 million copies of his debut, Back For The First Time, and is threatening to outdo his freshman outing with his sophomore LP, Word Of Mouf, which has been blazing through the charts with hits like the Jazze Phae-orchestrated "Area Codes" and the Organized Noize-produced "Saturday."
Not only has Def Jam provided Face with the opportunity to exercise his muscle in nurturing artists, but they've also allowed him to add to his rhyme résumé by relocating Face from his former label Virgin and making the house that Rush built his new home--as an artist. The result: Face's seventh solo album, The Fix, was unleashed last summer.
The LP hosts the perfect reintroduction to the old Scarface, the hustler, the gangsta, the ghetto preacher, the icon, and the introduction to the new Face, the Def Jam executive and artist. All in all, it's the same old Brad Jordan, that skinny hood from South Acres, Houston, who was always looking for a better hustle than the last. And The Fix does just that--it supersedes its predecessors. Did you expect anything less?
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Ludacris
Full Name: Chris Bridges
Throw Dem Bows
"You think you ready for this? You better pack ya bags punk."
Having crashed straight out of the red dirt landscape of Atlanta, Ludacris first emerged on the indie-produced effort Incognegro, which sold 30,000 copies. Still, it wasn't until the release of his double platinum classic Back for the First Time (2000) on Def Jam South that he really got a chance to show his stuff.
On his breakout singles "What's Your Fantasy" and "Southern Hospitality" this comical brother from another planet brought his ill rhyme style to the ears of America. Although still a babe in the world of rap, Ludacris has grown. "This record is the life report of my life for the past year," he says. "It's me learning every day, being more educated and becoming a better rapper and entertainer. Before I started working on Word of Mouf I felt like the best was yet to come. And now here it is."
Produced by the machine man known as Timbaland, the disc's first official single, "Rollout (My Business)," is a rip-roarer that will have even old folks shaking their wrinkled thangs. Known on his driver's license as Chris Bridges, the lanky rapper got his start in the business when he became a disc jockey for Atlanta's premier hip-hop station WHTA (Hot 97). "But don't get it twisted. I was already rapping before I even got on the air," stresses Ludacris. "People want to think that I was a radio jock who started rapping, when really it was the other way around."
Rolling wild with his crew Disturbing Tha Peace--a motley posse of talented rappers and producers that includes Shawna, Little Fate, Infamous 2-0, 4-IZE, and Shondrae--Ludacris brags, "We make such a good team, because each person brings something different to the table. But we all wild out and live every day as though it were our last. Believe me, if you lived next door to DTP, you would be knocking on the door demanding we turn down the noise."
With the release of Word of Mouf, the world can soon forget about learning country grammar, because Ludacris is speaking an entirely different language.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Ghostface Killah
Full Name:Dennis Coles
Tagged & Bagged
"I'm a ghost, man. I can't get broke."
A former member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah has emerged as one of the premier artists on the Def Jam label. There is no question that the man who embodies the Wu's coveted abstract essence is Ghostface Killah, who solidified his urban legend with his classic solo debut Ironman, followed it up with the acclaimed Supreme Clientele, and then came back with Bulletproof Wallets.
Unlike the majority of the industry's throwaway catchy bars-and-hooks rhymers, the Holy Ghost is not afraid to let his heart bleed all over a track. "To me, making songs is like giving birth to children," Ghost says. "They all have different faces, but it's still the same bloodline. I'm a soul baby, so I love old-school music. I write off of Marvin Gaye, Al Green. That's what brings it up outta me." Rap fans got a look at what lies ahead with the release of Bulletproof Wallets' first single, "Never Be the Same Again," which features vocals from R&B star Carl Thomas.
"When I write, I write to win. I write it for you to feel it," Ghost says. "I'm more or less into how it sounds. I could name an album Argentina and people would love it 'cause how pretty it sounds."
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Funkmaster Flex
Full Name: Aston Taylor Jr.
Throwin' Weight Around
Pistol Grip Funk
Yeah baby, let's get it crackin'."
Born Aston Taylor Jr. in the Bronx, New York, the son of a part-time DJ, Funkmaster Flex got his professional start at 19, carrying crates for DJ Chuck Chillout at KISS FM. As legend has it, one fateful day, Chuck was late for work and the program director let Flex spin for five minutes, and those five minutes turned into three hours. When Chuck moved to WBLS, Flex followed and became a full-fledged radio DJ in New York City. The following year, in 1992, Flex was offered his own late-night mix show on Fridays on Hot 97, New York's number-one station. Two hours turned into two nights, two nights turned into four, four nights turned into five. Flex eventually commanded an unprecedented 31 hours, spread over six nights a week, in the top two markets in the country.
By 1993, Flex was commanding attention at The Palladium, the city's hottest spot, where he was instrumental in breaking the Wu-Tang Clan, Naughty by Nature, Tupac, SWV, and Mary J. Bilge. A year later, his club fame would take him through to The Tunnel, where Flex has made a home for himself on Sunday for the past seven years. On each of these nights, in addition to the 2,000-plus cutting-edge club kids, you can found the most influential music crowd in New York City, including record producers, label heads, and breaking and superstar artists all going to get to the pulse point of new music.
In 1995, Flex recorded Funkmaster Flex The Mix Tape Volume 1, which sold more than 300,000 copies. Soon after, Flex followed with Funkmaster Flex The Mix Tape Volume 2, which was certified gold by the RIAA after more than 500,000 albums were sold in the United States. After cutting Funkmaster Flex The Mix Tape Volume 3, Flex swore he had made his last mix tape ever, but he then paired with his longtime partner Big Kap for their first collaboration album, The Tunnel, which has just been certified gold. The album features new songs from Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Ruff Ryders, Dr. Dre and Eminem, Cash Money Millionaires, Mary J. Bilge, Lil' Kim, Capone and Noreaga, and more.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Joe Budden
Full Name: Joe Budden
360 Drop Slam
"I'm gonna smack ya head off ya shoulders."
Born in Spanish Harlem, Joe Budden lived in Queens until he was 11 and then moved to Jersey City, which he still calls home. The middle of three boys, Joe heard music in his home (his dad is a multi-instrumentalist) and on the streets. He absorbed the songs of old-school legends like Rakim, Kool G Rap, KRS-One, and Queens natives Run DMC and LL Cool J, and by the time he turned 16, Joe had decided to take his love of hip-hop and his burgeoning skills to another level. Joe started hitting local studios and getting on mix tapes, doing it for the love and as means of expression.
Soon low-level industry types started buzzing around, filling his head with American Idol-worthy dreams. The prospects of fame excited the 17-year-old, but nothing came of any of the promises, so Joe just persevered and honed his craft. Everything changed in 2001, when one of Joe's self-produced CDs made its way to Cutmaster Cee, who passed it along to Webb of Desert Storm. Impressed by what he'd heard, Webb offered Joe the financial freedom to stay in the studio and concentrate on making mix tapes. It was only a matter of time before the really big guns caught wind of what Joe was up to and offered him the chance to shine on his own album.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Redman
Full name: Reggie Noble
Balls to the Wall
Arena: Da bridge
Redman: Hook 'N Sinker
Method: "Eh yo Red."
Red: "Yeah, what's up?"
Method: "You see what I see?"
Red: "Yeah I see what you see. I see a fool who's about to get his ass kicked!"
The doctor is in. The funk doc, that is. But this time, he's got a serious case of Malpractice against him. As Newark, New Jersey's, number one candidate, Redman has put it down for almost 10 straight years, delivering a smash each time out. His four solo albums (Whut? Thee Album, Dare Iz a Darkside, Muddy Waters, and Doc's Da Name 2000) and two collaborations (Blackout! with Method Man and El Nino with Def Squad) have placed the rapper in a hip-hop Hall of Fame, because only a few artists have managed to be that consistent. And Redman is one of them.
Redman's time in hip-hop has been well spent. Rather than waste time planning, the outrageous emcee just delivers. "I don't like to wait two or three years to drop an album. I try to drop one every year, at the end of the year, to close it out with a bang," he says laughing. As a result, the music always surprises listeners, never sounding like anything else out there. "I feel as though I always serve the fans, so I'm not trying to jump the gun too much. Malpractice will definitely be something different than what you've come to expect from Redman, but I ain't trying to go way out there either."
In addition to his musical achievements, Redman was nominated for a Grammy Award with De La Soul for his performance on the song "Oooh," and he received the 2000 Source Award with Method Man for Live Performer of the Year. He also appeared alongside Meth in his major motion picture debut How High.
Def Jam Fighter of the Day: Method Man
Full name: Clifford Smith
Method 2 Madness
Arena: Da bridge
Tear it Off
Method: "Eh yo Red."
Red: "Yeah, what's up?"
Method: "You see what I see?"
Red: "Yeah I see what you see. I see a fool who's about to get his ass kicked!"
Staten Island-based rapper Method Man (born Clifford Smith) first burst onto the national hip-hop scene in 1992 as a core member of the acclaimed rap collective the Wu-Tang Clan. Following the success of that group's 1993 debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Method Man released his first solo album, 1994's Tical, produced by fellow Wu-Tang member RZA.
Tical quickly became a hit, as did Method Man's 1995 duet with Mary J. Blige, "I'll Be There for You," which reached number three and won Method Man a Grammy in 1996. Method Man scored a second Top 20 single in 1995 with "How High," a duet with Redman. Method made his onscreen acting debut in 1998's Hype Williams feature Belly.
His follow-up, Tical 2000: Judgement Day, was released to much fanfare in November 1998, selling more than 400,000 copies in its first week of release.
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