Here’s a little known fact. The original idea for Rap Godz actually came in 2008. Almost 10 years later, it is about to be a reality. This is the story…
Way Back When…
When this was all starting, it was a fantastic time for Hip Hop. In 2007 and 2008, we saw T.I., Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West all collect one or more platinum records. This was almost purely in album sales, since Spotify and similar streaming services barely existed.
This was also a time when board games were in the midst of an evolution and a surge in popularity. 2007 saw the release of Galaxy Trucker, Agricola, Last Night on Earth, and Pandemic. These games would all soon become household names for those who had graduated from the University of Catan. Gamers everywhere were excitingly seeking out new and interesting mechanics and themes in their games.
From “Rhyme Pays” to “Rap Godz”
Hamu Dennis (the founder of BGB) having never played any of these games and having no idea where the industry was headed in the next decade, thought that Hip Hop deserved a board game. He squashed together a few classic board games (including The Game of Life, Sorry, and Trivial Pursuit), added a Hip Hop theme, and called it “Rhyme Pays”. If I’m being honest, this version of the game was a thing of legend until recently. After a little bit of digging, Hamu was able to find the original board prototype for the game. And we know precisely when it was created because he (like any artist would) signed and dated the design. Take a look:
The game was pretty basic. Roll some dice and make your way to the end of the board, answering some hip hop trivia and being pushed forwards and backwards based on a few somewhat random events throughout the game. There was only ever one real playtest. Hamu felt like Rhyme Pays was too limited since you had to “know” something about hip hop in order to play. He wanted to make a Hip Hop game that would be accessible to everyone. The project stalled. The idea didn’t resurface again until March 2017 on a trip to visit his board game obsessed little brother in Durham, NC (that would be me, lol).
That weekend changed both of our lives. I had never thought about designing a game. He had never played any modern board games. In the next 48 hours, we would spend close to 20 hours playing games and pretty much all the rest of our time together talking through what we envisioned for a hip hop game that could fairly represent our love for Hip Hop, stand formidably among the gaming giants, and still be fun for everyone. Almost a year later and our vision has persisted. We’ve gone through many different game mechanics, card designs, and board designs to find the balance between a game that is pure entertainment and one that has room for strategic gameplay. We fought to maintain a storytelling element that let you feel like you were living out the career of a hip hop artist but let you express yourself and interact with your opponents along the way. The end result is Rap Godz and we couldn’t be more proud of it.
Here’s some images of all the different concepts and prototypes that we’ve worked through:
Needless to say, it’s been any amazing year. The most we can hope for is that you go for this ride with us as we get closer to finalizing the game and eventually bringing it to your tabletop for you and your friends and family to enjoy.
– Omari Akil, Board Game Brothas