By Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)
And so I find myself drawn back into the world of videogame music although this time instead of looking at something directly taken from videogaming, I’m looking at something inspired by various games and their themes as evidence of my theory that any subject matter can make for excellent music when approached with care and love.
Gamebreakers 2 is the latest release by North Carolina collective GameBreax, comprising previous Unskippables subject Omega Sparx and SWATS and their vision of electronic infused hip hop called “Nerdcore”, and that’s a genre I can get behind.
I’ve spent decades deep within the realms of videogame fandom and as someone very much of the old school end of the spectrum, some of the deep cut references sprinkled throughout the album are what struck me immediately upon firing up the album for the first time. Track One, “Hard Edge” is perhaps the best example of these deepest of cuts as it’s one Rock Howard, the star of one of my personal favourite fighting games Garou: Mark of the Wolves that provides the inspirations and themes of some more “fight music” that I’m so fond of with a sweet sauce of lightning quick rhymes peppered with numerous Fatal Fury references that each bring a smile to my face slathered on top. This sterling heavy rap track shows me that love, care and attention have clearly been paid in the album’s creation.
Listing all the various references that punctuate the whole release would be an article all in itself so without letting my enthusiasm running away from me I’d best just say that if you’ve ever taken an interest in any of the biggest games of the last 30 years or so, there’s something in here to make you smile. Although special mention must go to the amazing idea of a Sonic the Hedgehog vs Knuckles the Echidna rap battle that meant that the grin had to be surgically removed from my face.
Nostalgic references are my personal favourite aspect of Gamebreakers 2 (I am after all a lover of language more than beats perhaps) but that isn’t the only thing GameBreax have going for them, far from it in fact. Nostalgia can only go so far so the ultra modern beatwork and rhymes are by far and away the best reason to check this release out. With the charts strangled by “trap rap” that, although I’m no expert on the subject, sounds incredibly lazy to me, the constructed, layered and melodic beats on here are so refreshing and enjoyable to listen to instead of being abrasive and ringtone focused. I also hate to single out individual rappers but Future’s mush-mouthed slurring is simply destroyed by every featured artist on here. To the point that it’s baffling that GameBreax aren’t more of a force in the genre at this point. I can’t be sure if these are the intentions but I hear a lot of DMX and Busta Rhymes while listening to the album and to my ears that is a very positive thing indeed as I’m a fan of both those artists.
On a broader theme it’s also nice that such a work of technical wizardry and craftsmanship can come from such an often derided medium like Videogames, far from the accusations that games breed generations of layabouts and simpletons by certain corners of established media, GameBreax show that great wit, dexterity, talent and great inspiration can be drawn from gaming as a whole. As someone who once made a living from videogames seeing them represented so well here warms the heart.
In conclusion Gamebreakers 2 doesn’t require the listener to be in a position to get where every single reference and sample comes from to be enjoyed. From the beats to the rhymes, the energy and scale of the whole production can be enjoyed on any level by any fan of hip hop hoping to experience a fresh take on the medium. It hits the top of the flagpole, it collects all seven Chaos Emeralds, it scores a Flawless Victory, it’s a Hyper-Combo finish and comes thoroughly recommended by me. Hugely enjoyable and almost essential.
Thanks for reading.
Download Gamebreakers 2 HERE!