Earlier this month, Def Jam Recordings stoked the flames of speculation when it tweeted about the possibility of a new Def Jam game. The fighting game series pits hip-hop celebrities and musicians against one another as they use the crowd and the environment to unleash epic beatdowns against their industry rivals. A new Def Jam game hasn’t been released in over a decade, and so many were excited at the thought that it could make a comeback.
There are lots of crucial details to be ironed out regarding a Def Jam: Fight for NY sequel. Not only does this include the location and the gameplay features, but it also includes the character roster. Which hip-hop heavyweights do we want to see?
Nicki Minaj is currently in full promotion mode as she prepares to go on tour and release Queen, the follow-up album to 2014’s The Pinkprint. However, given the rapper’s headline-making history, many of her fans (affectionately known as “Barbz”) will hope that she can find the time to star in a new Def Jam game too.
Over the years, Minaj has found herself embroiled in beef with everyone from Taylor Swift to Remy Ma to Mariah Carey and even reality TV star Farrah Abraham of Teen Mom OG. In an interview with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, Minaj expressed regret over her feuds, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t to settle a few scores in the virtual, Def Jam arena.
Cardi B appears to have the rap game in the palm of her hand right now. She’s featured on tracks with Bruno Mars, Jennifer Lopez, Maroon 5, and Migos, while she’s a chart-topper in her own right with singles like Bodak Yellow and I Like It, taken from her acclaimed debut album Invasion of Privacy.
During Cardi B’s stratospheric rise to the top, she has mostly avoided actual rap beefs. The so-called feud between Cardi and Nicki Minaj was “made up” by the Internet, says the rapper, while the beef between herself and Azealia Banks (in which Banks called her a “caricature of a black woman”) was short-lived. Though she has spoken plenty about her “haters” and no doubt many would like to see her take on said nameless nobodies in a new Def Jam game.
Hot off the heels of his record-breaking new album, Scorpion, Canadian rapper Drake may not have a huge amount of time on his hands. But fingers crossed that he has just enough time to take part in the development of a new Def Jam game because he will likely be the most-asked-for rapper to star in the game.
Not only is Drake a keen gamer, having taken part in a record-breaking Fortnite stream with Ninja, but he also has a long history of rap beefs. The most well-known and most recent may be Drake’s drama with Pusha T, who not only revealed that Drake has a son but also made the image of Drake in blackface make-up go viral.
There’s also the beef with Nicki Minaj’s ex-boyfriend Meek Mill which spawned several devastating diss tracks, as well as beefs with Common, Ludacris, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. While Drake prefers to settle things with music than with passive-aggressive Instagrams, it would be pretty cool to see October’s Very Own bring the fight to the Def Jam franchise.
As of May 2018, Meek Mill’s high-profile beef with Drake has officially been squashed. Meek may have accused Drake of using ghostwriters but given that Drake backed a high-profile campaign calling for the Philadelphia native to be released from prison, it seems that the two men are finally on much better terms now.
That doesn’t mean that fans would be opposed to seeing Meek Mill and Drake duke it out in a new Def Jam game, though. Meek Mill has also had beefs with 50 Cent, The Game, Joe Budden, and Safaree (Nicki Minaj’s ex-boyfriend and co-collaborator) and these would all make for brilliant viewing (and gaming) in a Def Jam game. Plus, Meek is an avid gamer having once helped to make a mobile game called Meek Mill Presents Bike Life, so he may well be interested in featuring in a Def Jam title too.
Kendrick Lamar is one incredibly talented rapper, having even won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for music for his album DAMN. That’s why when Kendrick publicly called out Drake, Wale, Pusha T, J. Cole, Big Sean and more during his feature on Big Sean’s Control (HOF) in 2013, many took him seriously.
Since Control (HOF) dropped, Kendrick Lamar has been no less shy to call people out. He’s continued to poke barbs at Drake, particularly at his use of ghostwriters and in Humble, a track from DAMN. he even seemed to use Big Sean’s own catchphrases against him.
Other people to feel Kendrick’s wrath include Donald Trump, Fox News, and all of the rappers who had their feelings hurt after Control (HOF) dropped. It’s unlikely that the President of the United States or an entire news organization would be represented in a video game, but plenty would like to see Kendrick face off against those rappers in a Def Jam game at least.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper isn’t one to keep his feelings quiet. The Chicago-based MC has weighed in on everything, from Chicago’s public school system to Netflix movies, Heineken adverts and, most recently, Fortnite‘s use of dance emotes. Although he isn’t especially known for his rap beefs (his “beef” with Vic Mensa was more of a vague squabble between two old friends), Chance’s outspoken nature makes him the perfect fit for Def Jam which has always featured larger than life personalities.
The biggest obstacle, though, is that Chance himself has criticized Def Jam Recordings in the past. In a parody image from his tour that poked fun at major labels, Def Jam became “Don’t Join.” Hopefully, the label doesn’t hold grudges and Chance can still make his way onto the roster.
Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino has been upping his game lately. Not only did he make shockwaves by releasing politically charged anthem This Is America but his star turn as Lando Calrissian in Disney’s Han Solo origin movie and his hilarious hosting of Saturday Night Live also got people talking. Could the next step be a feature in the new Def Jam game?
As a man who has had several beefs of his own, including public callouts of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and even Lady Gaga, Childish Gambino would be well-suited for Def Jam. His acting talents would lend themselves well to whatever narrative and cutscenes the Def Jam development team cooks up while his friendship with Chance the Rapper could also make for some brilliant tag-team takedowns.
Few rappers have garnered headlines and controversy like Kanye West. While few would doubt that his musical talent is immense (Through The Wire remains a classic), his beefs with everyone from Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, and Wiz Khalifa that have had people talking just as much.
Ye’s support for Donald Trump also divided his fans, making him a contentious but entertaining pick for the Def Jam character roster. Plenty would either love to settle some beefs as Kanye’s or settle their own beef with the rapper by taking him on.
As mentioned, Big Sean previously found himself targeted by Kendrick Lamar during the latter’s epic verse on Control (HOF). Although Sean has said publicly that he had no plans to change his own verse on the song in response – even if Kendrick did diss him – Control (HOF) didn’t make it onto Big Sean’s album either.
Big Sean’s beef with Kendrick has been of much discussion in the five years since, stoked by Kendrick’s subliminal shots at the rapper (The Heart Part 4 also seems to take aim at his former collaborator) and interviews. However, despite Big Sean’s protests that Kendrick didn’t “wash” him with his Control verse, it seems that the two men haven’t formally squashed their beef. either. The next Def Jam game could be a good opportunity to make that happen (in a fictional universe at least), especially as Big Sean is actually a Def Jam Recording artist.
While certain artists on this list (looking at you Drake and Nicki Minaj) have had their fair share of feuds, the title of “biggest beefer” undoubtedly goes to Azealia Banks. It seems that the 212 MC is rarely out of the headlines for her controversial comments against fellow industry names.
Just some of the people Miss Banks has criticized include Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Remy Ma, Iggy Azalea, Rihanna, Erykah Badu, Lil’ Kim, Rita Ora, Zayn Malik, Beyonce, Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, A$AP Rocky, and T.I. (who starred in a previous game, Def Jam: Icon). Azealia has even gotten into it with (then) 14-year old Disney star, Skai Jackson. Azealia could be the catalyst for all kinds of drama in a Def Jam game and, given her history, the narrative would seem totally believable.
It’s important to note that a new Def Jam has yet to be officially announced, meaning that it’s just as possible that the Def Jam Recordings teaser was just that – a teaser – and nothing more. Watch this space for official news though; hopefully, some of these picks will make the character roster.