The video game industry and hip-hop have formed a subliminal relationship over the years – decades even. As a genre that’s generally known to represent a significant part of the American pop culture, it’s quite impressive – and somewhat surprising – how these beats are used in many digital platforms. Interestingly enough, Kanye West teased earlier this year about plans of releasing a summer album called ‘TurboGrafx 16’, a nod to a cult gaming device from the ‘80s.
Anywhere from the classic two-dimension arcade variants to the contemporary 3D – soon-to-be virtual reality – console gaming, in-game music is either generally synth-heavy or ambient in nature. This background music – as some people call it – effectively sets the tone, as well as builds anticipation and excitement, to enhance the overall experience. It even has a hand in extending play session times, according to game designer and producer Dan Lamond in a recent interview.
Whether you’re a casual video game player or a professional computer wizard, we all have a blast as soon as we are transported into a digital world where anything and everything is possible. Add that to the fact that game developers – since time immemorial – have put a premium on soundtracks as much as the play style itself, and we’ve got the perfect recipe for a good time in front of a screen. On the flipside, these iconic computer-generated beats offer a type of familiarity, which was used, is used, and/or can be used on infectious hip-hop beats. So for us to connect the dots, so to speak, let’s look no further than hip-hop’s venture into the Nintendo realm, and see the most timeless video game samples used in the genre.
Super Mario Bros. – ‘Super Brooklyn’ by Cocoa Brovas
Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. theme is legendary on its own. Incorporate that to a commercially unreleased hip-hop track (for obvious reasons) by Cocoa Brovas and you have in your hands an underground hit rarer than Bigfoot.
Contra – ‘2 Brothers from the Gutter’ by Percee P feat. Diamond D
Just like many of its predecessors, the title screen theme of the 1987 run and gun action game Contra is LSS-inducing in every possible way. It’s no wonder why 2 Brothers from the Gutter creates not just a ‘90s hip-hop atmosphere, but also a nostalgic blast from the past.
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out – ‘Punch Out’ by Statik Selektah feat. Big Shug
The Japanese really know their way into the hearts of people, as heard in this 2007 collaboration of Statik Selektah and Big Shug. It keeps the essence of the Yukio Kaneoka-, Akito Nakatsuka-, and Kenji Yamamoto-composed track, giving listeners a momentary trip down memory lane while getting punched in the face by Iron Mike.
Chrono Trigger (Super Nintendo) – ‘Locals Only’ by Dom Kennedy
Los Angeles-based emcee Dom Kennedy is known for having the ears for production value that fits his storytelling talents. The intro for his 2011 single Locals Only features a smooth ear candy inspired by one of the best role-playing games ever, Chrono Trigger.