I've got 99 problems and it appears that 16-bit demon orc things are nine of them. Image via Real SG
I've been on a bit of a Super Nintendo kick lately in a bid to relive my SNES-free childhood, and one game still stands out as the one I need to play: Chrono Trigger. The only problem is that the game's legendary status means it doesn't come cheap, so despite spending a fair bit of time Googling period reviews and watching YouTube gameplay clips like an excited eight year old, I haven't taken the plunge yet.
So when I first heard this mix of Jay-Z tracks layered over Chrono Trigger's soundtrack, my socks were pretty much blown off. It comes courtesy a Kentucky-based producer named 2 Mello, who says on the mix that this isn't his normal jam–Timbaland can remain the chiptune guy–but who also mentioned on his Facebook page that he's down to do more. (Getting on the top of /r/music will do that for you.)
I'm an ardent hater of the old mashup culture of the mid-aughts, but to call this a mashup is nigh offensive. It's a proper, classic mix, and all the credit to 2 Mello for both figuring out that Jay-Z really flows well over Japanese 16-bit compositions and for rather seamlessly putting it together. The fact that it's occasionally tough to tell where the drums came from is the mark of a guy with skill. "Masamune Problems" stands out, as does the version of "Girls, Girls, Girls" titled "Marie, Lucca, Schala."
What does Jay-Z think of the whole thing? Well, I suppose we'll find out if 2 Mello gets a cease-and-desist, but the producer raises a fascinating point in the outro: Did rappers like Jay-Z who came of age in gaming's golden years ever actually play Nintendo?
"Even though Jay-Z's not the kind of model I need in this music, he's the one that I have," he says. "There ain't no great rapper that plays video games. There ain't no great rapper that collects starship models or watches science fiction series. But there needs to be."
2 Mello thinks that's not the case, and it's true that you never heard Ol' Dirty Bastard rapping about Hyrule. (Biggie's "Juicy" does, rather famously, rep Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, of course. But what about a shout-out for the Illusion of Gaia?) We may never know if N.W.A. had a SNES on their rider, but I know one way to find out: If any of you rappers whose music I've spend so much money on over the years want to come over and play Mario Kart, just let me know.