Word up, yo!
Well, Im Henry Gilbert and Im here to say I dislike bad rap in a major way! If you wanna have rhymes that sound real cool, dont put in these games and look like a fool... What you just read is an example of the dangers of thinking youre cool enough to spit dope lyrics with the best of them. You end up looking like an out of touch nerd. Its an experience games know all too well, as theyve played host to some of the worst music in hip hop history.
When youre working on a game, penning some original rhymes covering the excellence of your title and/or mascot makes sense in the moment. Unfortunately, 99% of these custom rap songs are doomed to be dated the instant the title is released (if not sooner). Read on to experience the worst crimes against hip hop that games have ever committed...
Capcom vs SNK 2 - Stimulation
Worst lyric: Made more rhymes than Michael Jordan
This one feels slightly unfair, mainly because the producers of this fighting games soundtrack are (very likely) non-native English speakers. Still, the above brag is such a weird one, because basketball legend Michael Jordan isnt really known for slinging rhymes. NBA greats like Shaq and Allen Iverson have been known to spit a verse, but less so for MJ. Most of the rest of the lyrics are near-unintelligible - Make some lyrics like the bass with the treble (?). I mean that theyre both hard to make out, and dont make sense even when the words are clear. Also, while the hook and bridge are nice, it feels like they repeat about five times in one minute. I know the song is called Stimulation, but slow your roll, CvS2.
Donkey Kong 64 - DK Rap
This corny rap is the intro song to DKs N64 debut, and Rare probably designed it to be lame. And they did too good a job too! This kid-friendly song laboriously introduces us to each playable character with clunky lyrics - Inflate himself just like a balloon, This crazy Kong just digs this tune! Good job sneaking in that boast about your song, guys. The DK Rap then concludes with the above words, sweatily cobbling together pineapple smells, as if thats a phrase any human has ever said. The song sets the tone early for this cornball game, and I give Rare bonus credit for sneaking hell into the original version of the game (subsequently it was rewritten as heck) showing little disregard for the sensibilities of Nintendos audience.
MadWorld - Look Pimpin!
Worst lyric: Don't hesitate to populate the murder rate.
Platinum Games is one of my favorite developers, and the custom, lyric-heavy soundtracks are usually one of their strongest attributes. This song is up there with its weaker offerings, though, and it isnt helped by being the theme for the annoying, problematic Black Baron character. The song is very fitting for the grating, over-the-top character, even specifically referencing things like Barons violent girlfriend and the tilted brim of his hat. But its a little too slick, just like the character. Credit where its due: I really like You just sealed your fate. On the holidays that'll be one less plate, because it conjures up a sad family during a Thanksgiving meal. Its a visual far too many rappers overlook.
WWE 2K15 - All Day
Worst lyric: I need four fingers, Im giving you the middle one.
Wiz Khalifa is a legit rapper and he does a fine job with this wrasslin games promotional hip hop, so hes not the issue here. My main gripe is with John Cena, the omnipresent WWE superstar whos also on the cover of the game. He got his start as a parody of lame rappers, then somehow became a non-joke rapper with a groan-worthy entrance song. All Day is his return to the studio after years of not-rapping, and in it, we hear more of what we werent missing. Cenas rhymes are more like spoken phrases said with the requisite amount of intensity his brand requires, Im about to go on trial, murdering instrumentals, is another example of his flat verse. John is as average as ever, but at least it only lasts for a fraction of the song, limiting the exposure to his awfulness.
Slam City with Scottie Pippen - Theme Song
Its weird to feel pity for a hall of fame NBA player like Scottie Pippen, but I kinda do. Pippen won six championships with the Chicago Bulls, but he was always overshadowed by teammates like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman. Perhaps Scottie thought hed finally breakout of their orbit by starring in his own game, but the resulting Slam City is an FMV Sega CD release, guaranteeing obscurity. The monotonous Get Respect opening song fits the unmemorable vibe, with bland platitudes about how one goes about earning respect. As the above lyric states, if youre beaten, then you didnt bring your best shot. Sadly, the next obvious statement wasnt, if you think you see the sky, but it isnt blue, thats wrong too.
Fugitive Hunter - End Credits Theme
As someone who lived in America in 2001, I can tell you that post-September 11 was a really weird time for all of us. People reacted in strange ways to this new stage of the War on Terror, and that includes crappy shooters with terrible rap over the credits. Fugitive Hunter is the type of cheaply made game that is only memorable for being exceptionally bad (and for including a level where you actually kill Osama bin Laden) and the end credits theme is just as blunt in its response. The words come fast and furious, describing all the ways the wordsmiths will sneak into terrorist hideouts and hunt down the bad guys, with the phrase Fugitive Hunter droning on top of it all. Someone should check with the members of Seal Team Six to see how accurately these lyrics compare to actually hunting Bin Laden down.
Sonic Adventure - Knuckles Theme
Even the most stoic Sonic apologist will admit that most of the series music features lyrics are in the so bad its good category - and I mean that as a half-compliment. Thats the case with the ludicrous rap and jazz fusion that is Knuckles theme in Sonic Adventure. The songwriters seem to approach the song with a list of Knuckles attributes, talking over and over and over again about how hes a loner, tough, and out to cleanse evil. The hip hop breaks are the weakest part of all, doubling up on explanations like I'll give you the colder shoulder, My spikes go through boulders. Even a jazzy saxaphone solo cant mask how incredibly uncool Knuckles looks when this tune is over. Or, indeed, while its playing. Fun fact: The rapping is done by the original voice of Parappa the Rapper, who has much better material!
Dead Island - Who Do You Voodoo
Worst lyric: Hand full of fingertips, toss em up like confetti.
One of Dead Islands main characters is a rapper, so hearing at least one tune by Sam B. is unavoidable. And like many rappers, his rhymes reflect the world around him, in this case a tropical paradise full of animated corpses. Sam B. has some very grisly lines about the undead that surround him - Shrunken heads, broken legs, body parts on the concrete is another winner. Still, call me overly sensitive, but what I hate most is the constant use of word bitch in this song. In fact, the chorus uses the word a half-dozen times, acting like you can rhyme a word with itself constantly and not look like a hack. Beyond feeling openly misogynist, constantly repeating Who do you Voodoo, bitch? bothers me as a professional writer/human being.
Hip hop, and you don't stop...
Those are the worst crimes against hip hop that I could chronicle today, but I'm always looking for more awesomely bad rap. If you'd like to share some that I missed, let me know in the comments!