Bit by Bit: Obscure Video Game Samples in Obscure Hip-Hop Songs

Hip-Hop beats were built on producers digging through crates of old, dusty vinyl records in the elusive search for the Perfect Sample. But some of these dudes apparently have been digging through yard sales and the used video game rack at GameStop too because there’s quite a bit of video game sampling going on in hiphop.

Below are some mad random hiphop songs with some random-ass video game samples in ’em. I didn’t bother with obvious things like, Smif n’ Wessun sampling Mario Brothers. And I’m going to ignore the fact that DJ Sega sampled (wait for it) a Sega game. Let’s break it down bit by bit…

BMS, “Mucho Stereo” Vs. Mortal Kombat (Genesis)

If you own this record, props. I personally love this track.

If the name “BMS” rings familiar, then you were probably buying records in the mid-to-late 90’s. “Mucho Stereo” is a sick 12″ that dropped in ’98 with the El-P produced Indelibles cut, “Weight” on the flip side. But the BMS tune, produced by the man himself, is the one. The crazy thing about this track though is it samples the Genesis version of Mortal Kombat (1993) which has an entirely different soundtrack than the arcade version — or even its Super Nintendo counterpart, for that matter. Still, I personally like the Genesis music. Check out the sample below from the song “The Entrance (Palace Gates)”:

Janet Jackson, “China Love” Vs. Legend of Mana

OK, OK, I’m cheating a bit. I know Janet Jackson isn’t hiphop. I mean…don’t get me wrong: Janet’s HIPHOP. But her music isn’t typically labeled “hiphop” as a genre.

Regardless, this one blew my mind and so I had to include it. Who is playing Legend of Mana — a Japanese role-playing game on Playstation from 1999 — up in Janet’s camp? Jimmy Jam? Or Terry Lewis? “China Love” features a sample of the song “Moonlight City Roa” by composer Yoko Shimomura. Sure enough in the CD’s booklet (remember when music came with booklets?) it reads: “Contains a sample from the Square game ‘Legend of Mana’.” *MIND BLOWN*

UPDATE (01/21/19): I was recently contacted on Twitter by Drew Mackie, host of the Singing Mountain podcast, about the relationship between “China Love” and “Moonlight City Roa,” citing this article. In the Twitter thread we try to establish written proof of the line I quoted above regarding the sample clearance from “The Legend of Mana.”

Please check out our conversation here. And for further details into “China Love” vs. “Moonlight City Roa”, check out episode #56 of the Singing Mountain podcast.

Tajai & SupremeEx, “Fluid Motion” Vs. Tobal 2

In 1999, Tajai & SupremeEx released their EP, Projecto: 2501. On it was the song, “Fluid Motion” which sampled an obscure part of an obscure import video game known as Tobal 2. When this game came out on the original PlayStation in 1997, it was a marvel to behold. Unfortunately, due to dismal sales of its predecessor, Tobal 2 was never released on American shores.

The sample takes place in the Quest Mode of the game which is entirely in Japanese. So if you don’t know Japanese, you probably won’t get very far. But that didn’t stop SupremeEx from flipping It.

Del the Funky Homosapien, “Proto Culture” Vs. Darkstalkers

Now, I’ll be the first to admit: even though it’s still “obscure” as far as mid-90’s hiphop is concerned, this is one of the more well known video game-sampling hiphop tracks. Not only does it sample Capcom’s influential 2D fighting game, Darkstalkers from 1994, but Del & rhyming accomplice Khaos Unique go one step further by rapping EXCLUSIVELY about video games on the entire track.

I was working with Del when this song came out in 2000, so I’m very fond of it and it was one of the songs Del performed at the Sega Dreamcast release party in San Francisco back in 1999. Have a listen!

Jay-Z, “Money, Cash, Hoes” Vs. Golden Axe

OK. I’m gonna throw a little bonus joint out there. I call it a bonus joint because I’m not 100% certain on this one. And Jay-Z is far from an obscure hiphop artist. But I’m almost positive this one’s a match: Swizz Beats sampled Golden Axe on the Sega Genesis for the 1999 Jay-Z/DMX track, “Money, Cash, Hoes”. Don’t believe me? Peep the evidence and let me know what you think:

Well, that’s it for this round of obscure rap records sampling obscure video games. Hope you enjoyed it. Tune in next time for more obscure bit beats.

UPDATE (07-27-2013): Shouts out to my mans Wayne Boothe at All Things All Things for hipping me to this video from SPIN magazine. All kinds of video game samples in it. Plus, I’m apparently getting confirmation on that Jay-Z / Golden Axe sample which is cool. Thanks, Boothe!

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