Authenticity to the culture and personality of hip hop goes beyond the surface, completely infusing the core gameplay as well. What was always a rather ludicrous (Ludacris?) premise - pampered performance artists holding gritty drag down street brawls - actually kinda makes sense when the background tracks carry so much importance. Yes, punches and kicks are still being exchanged, but Def Jam: Icon is more about song vs. song than fist vs. fist.
We learned this the tough way when Tsunoda handed us his Xbox 360 controller and invited us to face off against one of the developers. Pitting OutKast's Big Boi against rapper T.I. on a skyscraper rooftop, we managed to land plenty of blows, but were still getting whooped. Our practiced opponent knew the T.I. track playing over the match inside-out, and because he could time his blows to the beat of the bass, they counted for more damage than ours did. He even had an innate understanding of when he should taunt (usually on lesser beats as we foolishly blocked) and when it was better to throw us across the screen at the nearby helicopter (right before any deep thump triggered the spinning blades to swing down and deal us double the pain).