Videogames present: Hip Hop's finest hour

Game: Parappa the Rappa
Song: “Inspector Mooselini’s Rap”

Behind the Jam: You know how hard it was to pick this song over all the others?Whether it was about getting a driver’s license or baking a seafood cake, Parappa’s adorably infectious grooves kick-started the rhythm genre and remain firmly burrowed in our hearts over a decade later. Sure, a lot of Parappa’s mic skillz were based around Simon Says mimicry, but the difference between “rappin’ GOOD” and “rappin’ COOL” was all in how you freestyle.

However, the less that’s said about his former relationship with Crash Bandicoot, and their creepy shenanigans involving sneaking into the homes of young Japanese boys, the better. Either way, you gotta believe!

Standout lyric:When I say boom boom boom, you say bam bam bam /
No pause in between, come on, let's jam!

Game: The Legend of Zelda
Song: “Zelda is Rad (Really Rad)"

Behind the Jam: If 8 Mile taught us anything, it’s that sometimes the dopest rhymes emerge from the depths of our own desperation. In this powerful marketing tool, a kindly Aryan nerd can’t quite convince his cooler, denim-jacketed buddy of the merit found in the original Zelda.

After the latest “Nintendo newsletter” fails to get his point across, he resorts to extreme measures and geekishly raps the praises of Link and Ganon, throwing in some A cappella record scratches (*wickey wickey*) just to hammer the point home. Yeah… If you think this is bad, we assure you Nintendo did not learn its lesson.

Standout lyric:It’s the Legend of Zelda and it’s really rad / Those creatures from Ganon are pretty bad

Game: Link’s Awakening
Song: “Man with the Plan”

Behind the Jam: Times change, and both games and rap music grew ever harder. Since the Zelda games proved impossible to sell without rap Nintendo ditched the marketing wiggers and went gangsta.

In this 1993 commercial, an urban youth confined to damp parking garage with Game Boy videos projected on the walls spits a barrage of devastatingly tight rap clichés, almost a third of which relate specifically to Link’s Awakening! If you can think of a better way to sell Zelda, we’d like to hear it.

Standout lyric:Creepin’ through, with an overhead view / Cause a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do

Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror
Song: “Fugitive Hunta”

Behind the Jam: In terms of being a reactionary response to September 11th, Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror might be the greatest game ever made. But if you take development time into consideration, gameplay based on timely subject matter ripped from the headlines is solely the domain of Flash browsers and certainly not consoles.

Above: Afghani standoff

Apparently, Black Ops Entertainment sought to seal the game’s obsolescence and commissioned this ghetto dope anthem so as to oversimplify the War on Terror. If that weren’t dated enough, Fugitive Hunter’s hilarious adoption of live-action FMVs long abandoned by the game industry makes the game feel like it was developed way before 2001. We smell a conspiracy…

Standout lyric:Hijacking, straight surprises / Find ‘em blowin’ up high rises

Sonic Adventure
Song: “Unknown from M.E.”

Behind the Jam: With the amount of ‘tude Sonic the Hedgehog has forced into our faces, it’s a wonder he hasn’t rapped more. It seems Sega decided long ago that wailing butt rock will always and forever be Sonic’s accompaniment, and only Knuckles would be allowed to flow.

“Unknown from M.E.” is one of many songs where the "Echidona" rocks upon the mic in distinctly unrecognizable first-person, but it’s particularly notable due to extreme awfulness. On one side you’ve got one of the most horrific rhyme schemes ever laid over MIDI muzak (“You can call me Knuckles! Unlike Sonic, I don't chuckle.”), then there’s a completely different R & B Knuckles crooning free formed nonsense as if he were auditioning for a role in R. Kelly’s Trapped inthe Closet.

Standout lyric:The new porcupine on the block with the puffed chest / Outta the wilderness with the ruggedness

Game: Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
Song: “Let’s Get it On”

Behind the Jam: Street Fighter is home to both the best and worst music videogames have to offer. The original SFII music is unforgettable, yet Capcom has struggled to find its melodic way ever since the conversion from carts to CDs. We won’t dwell on the SFIV intro, nor the liquid elevator jazz of Marvel vs Capcom 2… 3rd Strike’s soundtrack was a bold new step in an even wronger direction.

Instead of remixing the tunes we all know and love, SFIII opted to get with the “now” by composing several dated raps featuring sizzling saxophones and an MC who’s extremely enthusiastic about Street Fighter. It kicks off right from the opening, but the player select menu contains some of the most laughably literal lyrics ever committed to wax. Lyricist INFINITE will regale you with details on the game’s tactics, difficulty, continuity, and even advise the best strategy for picking a character.

Standout lyric:Street Fighter 3, that's right, the third chapter / This game's for real, no blondes and no actors

ToeJam and Earl III: Mission to Earth
Song: “Intraductionz” x2!

Behind the Jam: Despite a world dripping with B-boy attitude, ToeJam & Earl did very little rapping in their initial outings. This was due mostly to the limitations of the Genesis, so all was amended when funkotronic twosome made their long awaited return on the OG Xbox.

Both briefly rhyme intros about themselves. Earl acknowledges he’s fat and slow, but we still don’t know why ToeJam would claim any affiliation with “The Hood.” TJ & E have once again become wayward MCs, but the video above should shed some insight on the cultural gap they so triumphantly bridged.

Standout lyric:Gotta give it up, Toe Jam in the hood / HUH! Damn I’m good