I’d be willing to bet that there is a surprising percentage of y’all out there who are struggling today due to lack of sleep. You know how I know? Because Madden 25 hit stores last night and, as is the case with any big game drop, the diehard fans come out at midnight to be the first ones to grab it. Which, of course, means you have to stay up late to play it because who just gets the game and doesn’t play? I’m not a big Madden guy so I was not one of the fans in line (I will be for GTA), nor will I purchase the game at all. While I have moved on from madden, I will always remember the soundtracks that EA compiled which were always a important yet underrated aspect; I mean when you are doing a 12 year franchise, it is important to have some good tunes to entertain you. For nothing more than shits and giggles, I went back through the Madden soundtracks just to see what songs I had forgotten about and, big names aside, Madden has had some really dope, underground approved artists contribute songs.
I thought I had the soundtracks pegged, but as it turns out, they had both an ear to the radio and the underground. Since EA’s budget is colossal I figured they would get the biggest names in to attract attention. Of course I remember Ludacris’ Madden 2000 intro and Outkast’s “Church” featured on Madden 2004. Hell, even Arcie Eversole’s sports-anthem, “We Ready” (Madden 2011) and Bone Crusher’s Madden-remix of “Never Scared”, also from Madden 2004, aren’t big names, but those songs were huge back in the day and it wasn’t any surprise they were on their respective soundtracks.
Maybe I wasn’t old enough, or a learned enough hip-hop student to appreciate, but EA really used to go all out on the soundtracks, and had some picks that give them some serious credibility in my book. For example, 2008 was a damn good year for hip-hop and Madden; in fact, the underground overruled the mainstream. Swizz Beatz, MIMS, and Timbaland were the three big hip-hop features, but there are some “lesser known” artists who showed up in flocks to takeover the soundtrack. Brother Ali spearheaded the group with his fiery cut “Whatcha Got”. Up until today, I had no idea he was on a Madden soundtrack.If you had told me before he was on Madden’s soundtrack, I doubt I would have believed you; it just doesn’t seem like something he would go for. However, It is a perfect fit, his passion and powerful flow over the guitar-driven beat is the perfect workout/football song. Brother Ali is accompanied by Pharoah Monch, whose Alchemist produced cut, “Desire”, is sandwiched between Murs’ “Dreadlocks” and Zion I & The Grouch’s “Hit 'Em” featuring Mistah F.A.B Sure Yellowcard is on the soundtrack too, but from a hip-hop perspective, it doesn’t get any better than this.
While Madden 2002 didn’t have nearly the amount of tracks, EA went with a quality over quantity on the game, which had Daunte Culpepper on the cover (yeah it was that long ago). Pharaoh Monch appears again (or for the first time I guess) but instead of a song from his catalog he makes a custom made Madden theme, full of football one liners and of course a shout out to John Madden (not something you hear in every hip-hop song). Madden 2002 only had two other songs, but both were phenomenal. Mos Def’s “Mathematics” instrumental was joined by Talib’s “Down For The Count”…that’s all. While it might only be three songs, I can’t think of a more legit soundtrack. Monch, Def, and Kweli? You try and do better.
Oh yeah and I couldn’t do a Maddens soundtrack summary without mentioning the fucking incredible remixes of Sam Spence’s NFL Films songs. If you are even a casual football fan than you have definitely heard Spence’s dope instrumentals on a commercial or NFL Films presentation; aside from the actual football there is nothing more NFL than a Sam Spence instrumental. I have long wondered, why emcees or producers give his stuff a hip-hop makeover more often. You can imagine my excitement when Madden 2007 had a boatload of Spence hip-hop remixes from Da Riffs. I could listen to these all day.
I am not sure what the new Madden soundtrack is like, and would love for someone to fill me in. Sadly, it seems like soundtracks are becoming less and less important in Madden and even in the NCAA franchise. It really sucks to see because those mid-2000 Maddens soundtracks were legendary; I remember they used to have a preview show of the music alone. It just goes to show you that, even in a football game, people still care about music and consider it just as important as the game itself.