Words by C. Paicely Graphic by Talia
Fifteen years ago Bone Thugs-n-Harmony dropped “Eternal,” a nasty free-flowing track with a sample from the video game Eternal Champions. The Super Mario Bros. theme gets remixed like crazy. Video games and music cross paths constantly, and there’s plethora of bass-thumping tracks floating in our ears while we rack-up points. While we could all name tons of sweet background music, there are a few tracks that are just dying to be sampled. So without further ado, peep game.
1. Streets Of Rage – Intro
Why: The intro to the Sega Genesis classic Streets of Rage earned points for kicking off one of the best scores in gaming history. It set the stage for three beautifully-crafted fighting games with some of the funkiest beats to ever come out of the Sega Genesis. Instrumentally simplistic, the track was both soothing and somehow ominous. SOR was one of the few games that compelled gamers to watch the entire intro every time.
Who: Nas. Who else but Nasty Nas could kick some well-thought out intellect over mellow, smooth flowing production like this? In much the same tone he breaks down his thoughts on society on 80% of his songs, Nas would murder this beat with that raspy QB swag we all know so well. Streets of Rage? Sounds like something Mr. Jones should have already made.
2. Sonic The Hedgehog – “Robotnik’s Theme”
Why: While Sonic fallen come on hard times lately, the little blue guy still deserves credit for capping off his boss fights with a dynamic spine-tingler of a beat. Not every game can provide the kind of music that brings about the feeling of dread gamers got for reaching the egg man. With trumpets and timpani drums echoing through the halls of that fortress, Robotnik sounded a lot more terrifying than he looked. BrandUn DeShay has sampled some Sonic, but I’ve yet to hear the Robotnik theme in his work.
Who: Kanye. Despite (or maybe because of) all the anger, confusion, regret and lack of regret we get from Kanye, the man knows how to throw together beats dynamic enough to convince us he just might be as awesome as he says he is. Imagine Ye sampling Robotnik’s theme with that perfect combination of complex 808s and simplistic snares. Maybe he would spit about how he get’s super sonic so egg heads can tell no “tails.” Or something less corny.
3. Metal Gear Solid 3 – “Snake Eater”
Why: The Metal Gear series is full of epic, movie-like music, but only one of the beats sounded like it could be chopped and screwed into something wicked. Get Travis Barker on the job and that beat enters a new spectrum of incredibility. Even without the help of Barker, an unknown producer somewhere could seriously gain some exposure with this sample.
Who: T.I. The way the drums come down behind all the horns is reminiscent of some of DJ Toomp’s beats. So of course T.I. would tear this track apart. Even the title “Snake Eater” lends itself to a pretty raunchy club track.
4. Castlevania – The whole soundtrack
Why: The original Castlevania remains on most folks’ list of the best video games of all time. The epic music is part of what got it there. The beats have breakdowns you would expect in most old-school Nintendo games, and those comfortable enough with their manhood to admit it will vouch for the fear of death those tunes produced. Oh No sampled music from Castlevania III but I’ve yet to hear anyone use the original game’s monstrous melodies.
Who: Brotha Lynch Hung. He’s the only spitter versatile and scary enough to properly use a set of Castlevania beats. A mix tape with a Dracula-esque theme of blood sucking murder and mayhem is perfect for Mr. Horrorcore. Hung could make Castlevania his theme music.
5. Final Fantasy VII – “Shinra Theme”
Why: Anyone who has ever played the seventh (and best) Final Fantasy game can remember its one truly nasty beat without clicking on the video above. Shinra was like the Walmart of the Final Fantasy world. They were an evil cooperation that had control over everybody and there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could say about it. Shinra’s theme music made the rest of the world seem as small as the city surrounding the corporation’s massive tower
Who: Eminem. Shady has a way of making “We Will Rock You” style rock tunes into hardcore anthems tearing down the established order. He started it with the classic “Til I Collapse,” and continued the trend with “Mosh” and, most recently, “Cinderella Man.” Em would do something similar with the Shinra theme. Just speed it up a little and we would all relish in another opportunity to hear Marshall lyrically go ape shit in that angry screech he does so well.
6. Little Big Planet – “Sleepy Head”
Why: This is an interesting one. The game itself is kid-friendly and light hearted, but “Sleepy Head” has a hypnotic contemplating stoner-vibe going on. It’s disturbing in its awesomeness for that very reason. Theirs is also a refined sounds going on. The horns and xylophone sound legit (not like a keyboard). I guess that makes since because they are legit. Thank the Daniel Pemberton TV Orchestra for this gem.
Who: KiD CuDi. No question here. He would own this music like no other. That slow-moving sing-songy Bone Thugs influenced style of his, fits perfectly with this music. Imagine the metaphors Cudder could in referencing a game with a protagonist named “Sackboy.” Give the guy who made an entire album with the theme of dreams and night terrors a song called “Sleepy Head.” Then just see what comes out the other side.
7. God of War II & III (remixed by Guitar Hero) – “The End Begins (To Rock)”
Why: The God of War theme always added that proper air of strength, brutality and the desire to destroy all enemies to the game-playing experience, but when the Guitar Hero team got its mits on Kratos’s jam, it became legendary. The electric guitars and stop-and-start drums pounded fear into the hearts of all mortals. Maybe that’s a little too grandiose, but it definitely got folk’s hyped and rocked out of their gaming chairs.
Who: Twista. This beat requires a special kind of rapper. It requires the kind of artist that can stutter-step his way across any unusual rhythm. Twista is the god of verbal delivery. It’s only fitting for him to use such a beautiful nightmare of sound, and produce organized chaos that we can somehow nod our heads to.
Of course these aren’t the only sample-worthy classics. What video game music do you find yourself nodding your head to? What artist would spit on it? Weezy on The Legend of Zelda? Lupe on Resident Evil? Name some of the best video game beats you’ve never heard sampled.