For many, hip-hop and video games are forever linked – whether as the background music during a gaming session, the official soundtrack to the game or, in some cases, the actual star of the game. As with many things in today’s culture, nostalgia has crept its way into gaming. Like the latest Hollywood blockbuster, many games from “back in the day” are being rebooted for the latest systems. But this process seems to have reinforced the nostalgia for the originals.
Enter K-Murdock and Random. The producer (of Panacea) and the MC (also known as Mega Ran) don’t only share a love of hip-hop. They’re both serious gamers and it was that love of video games that was the genesis for Forever Famicom. But, as always, the question remains: how can you bring the two worlds together? For K-Murdock and Random, the answer is simple: create an album with beats that feature samples from NES games and let Mega Ran deliver lyrics that further bring the two entities together.
The duo quickly establish a theme with the defacto album intro, “Episode III (A New Day).” Random’s quick pace over the somewhat deliberate beat serves as a reminder of what it is he does – and what he and K-Murdock will do. And the track itself definitely sounds like a video game, but one that you could listen to over and over.
But the album is about far more than video game samples. Random delivers some of the most personal lyrics you’ll hear on a hip-hop record on both “Forever” and “Dream Master”. The former, which features Emilie Bogrand on the chorus and samples the role-playing game Earthbound (thanks to the Internet for that answer), is a laid back track that finds Mega Ran reminiscing about his life’s journey. (Pause. Oh yeah let me continue/The game don’t stop; another day, another venue/And if they made a game of all the stuff I’ve been through/That joint would probably be rated M) The latter, which samples the NES game Little Nemo: The Dream Master (go figure), is the story of how Random, a child who did right as a kid in the 80s, survived the hood with the help of video games. But even that description doesn’t do the track any justice. K-Murdock’s production matches Random’s poignant lyrics – and the listener forgets all about the video game sample theme of the album.
“Player Two” offers a great juxtaposition between the 8-bit technology and the systems and devices of today. Random’s rapid-fire lyrics include references to Twitter, texting and Skype, while K-Murdock’s video game bassline is grounded in the NES era. “World Tree”, which features Damu the Fudgemunk on the cuts, is an extended metaphor in which hip-hop is the tree. The track samples the NES game Faxanadu (again, thanks Internet) and is easily the fastest-paced beat on the album – and Mega Ran definitely delivers (the second verse alone is full of enough TV show references to please any child of the 80s).
Forever Famicom isn’t without tracks about video games either. Both “Drop the Load” and “CONtact” bring more than just video game samples to the festivities. The former is Random’s take on the current state of the video game industry and features a unique flow from the MC; the latter, a track about the 10 rules for attending events known as CONs, features hard-hitting drums and a memorable bass line.
For serious gamers, the samples alone are worth the price of admission (I won’t even pretend to know anything about many of the games sampled for this release, but will say that the listening experience for a gamer must be an amazing trip down memory lane). For hip-hop heads looking for a “real” MC, Random (aka Mega Ran) more than delivers (how many MCs have the nerve to admit to being gamer?). Those same heads looking for creative production will be impressed with K-Murdock’s handling of NES samples. However, for the best tracks on Forever Famicom, the theme is irrelevant. It’s just great hip hop. And that is something that should appeal to the masses.