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Survival of the Illest

By: Jon CaramanicaIs N.O.R.E. really God’s favorite, or is tonight the night forRedman? Find out when two rappers take on the hip-hop beat-’em-upDef Jam Vendetta

You strategize, you battle, you rack up point totals in the millions–being a rap star is pretty much like beinga character in your own videogame. Electronic Arts takes this correlation to its logical end in Def Jam Vendetta, a fully loaded,fighting free-for-all starring the famed hip-hop label’s heaviest hitters, including DMX, Ludacris, Scarface, and Ghostface Killah. To ensure that Vendetta was properly “representing,” the real-life versions of Redman and N.O.R.E. (who are also available as playable characters in the game) played a round at Def Jam’s chaste, smoke-free offices. Remarkably, mayhem ensued nonetheless.

The Preshow Party
Even before the contest begins, Vendetta opens with an appropriately bling-bling introduction showcasing the game’s roster of characters (a menacing-looking gaggle of fictitious thugs) alongside the Def Jam artists, who are executing hand-to-hand combat moves we assume they can pull off in real life. But where’s Redman?

Redman: Why am I not in the introduction? I need to be in the introduction.
N.O.R.E.: You’re bugging.
Redman: Nah. I’m not. [To Def Jam crony] Why I ain’t in the intro, man? Y’all better fix that.
Def Jam crony: If I can fix it, you want me to fix it?
Redman: You motherfucking right!

The Opening Act
In preparation for the main event, the rappers select the two-on-two play option and, not surprisingly, choose to play asthemselves. Then they try to assess which of the assembled fighters would make the easiest marks. Notably, they opt not to fightagainst other Def Jam artists.

N.O.R.E.: We better pick some pussy-ass niggas. Who’s the assest niggas in here?
Redman: Nah, who’s the illest?
N.O.R.E.: Fuck that. We picking the wackest niggas in here. They didn’t make no artists wack. That’s dope, ’cause that’s justlike our records.

The Headliners
So much for planning. Red and N.O.R.E. choose to tag-team against Razor and D-MOB, two of the most diesel ass-kickers in thegame. (D-MOB is in fact the head honcho of all Vendetta’s lowlifes.) By the time they’ve realized this, N.O.R.E. is gettingclubbed heavily, and his attempted suplex of Razor fails miserably. Red can only look on from the sidelines in horror.

Redman: They took me out the ring! Why they always take me out the ring?
N.O.R.E.: I don’t like to lose, so when I buy a game, I don’t even play the shit with anyone until I’ve mastered that shit. I don’teven tell you I got the motherfucker. I act like I just opened it when you come to the crib, like, “Hey, you ever played this?” Peoplejust take my word, and I just whip on them.
Redman: I don’t listen to none of that shit. You don’t know how to play? I take advantage of that situation and whup your ass rightout the door. I’m here for business.

The After-Party
For a moment, things are looking up. An in-game alert notifies Red that he is “blazin’!,” allowing him to flip D-MOB in the airand dispense him with a reverse kick. N.O.R.E. successfully busts out a move called the Crooklyn Guillotine, despite the fact thathe’s from Queens. However, once the real N.O.R.E. pauses for a sip of wine, things crumble again. On cue, his character begins tostagger, and within minutes, the match is over.

N.O.R.E.: It’s the Hulkamania!
Redman: They whuppin’ our ass! Look!
N.O.R.E.: We had it coming, though. You had to pick the two biggest niggas.