30 Hip-Hop Songs That Sample Video Games

Hip-Hop Songs That Sample Video Games

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Complex Original

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Video games and hip-hop is a marriage that never ceases to impress. Both entities had rapid rises in the 1970s and eventually made its way into pop culture, captivating audiences from across all generations. Even today, the two worlds are continuing to collide. Just watch the first video teaser for Puff Daddy’s “I Want The Love. Within seconds, it is reminiscent of the 16-bit era, complete with a character selection screen, coin sound effect a la Super Mario, and much more goodies.

The two have been inseparable. From the looks of it, the trend won’t be dying down and we’ll probably see some innovative ways to capture the essence of both in the future. As long as video games keep dazzling us, chances are hip-hop is going to keep referencing them in rhymes and sampling certain classics for nostalgia’s sake. So, as gamers usher in a new wave of upcoming releases thanks to E3 2014, we figured it was a perfect time to highlight video games and hip-hop coming together. Here are 30 Hip-Hop Songs That Sample Video Games. Plug and play.

RELATED: Some of the Best Officially Licensed Songs in Video Games 

RELATED: The Best Video Game Music from the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation 1 Era

RELATED: The Best Licensed Songs Used in Video Game Commercials

Jedi Mind Tricks "The Wolf" f/ Ill Bill and Sbac Red (2003)

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Album: Visions Of Gandhi
Producer: Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind
The Sample: “Byzantine Power Game” (Max Payne)

Max Payne is one of the baddest video game characters of all time. So when Philly underground MCs Jedi Mind Tricks tapped into Max Payne’s soundtrack for “The Wolf,” it definitely earned them some brownie points. The ambient sounds of Max Payne, along with some dialogue from the game, add to the song’s urgency and intensity. If you want some great FPS background music, then look no further than here.

Cocoa Brovas "Super Brooklyn" (2000)

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Album: Game Over
Producer: DJ Rob
The Sample: “Underground Theme” (Super Mario Bros.)

Cocoa Brovaz (Smif-N-Wessun) recorded “Super Brooklyn” for the video game-themed compilation titled Game Over. Flipping the famous tune of Super Mario Bros. the single was an undeniable BK anthem that highlighted their playfulness. Due to sample clearance issues, Tek and Steele couldn’t release “Super Brooklyn” properly, but it still managed to boost their popularity in the underground.

French Montana "Sanctuary" (2013)

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Album: Mac & Cheese 3
Producer: Black Metaphor
The Sample: Utada Hikaru “Sanctuary (Ending)”

French Montana’s Mac & Cheese 3 was considered his best work. Among big anthems such as “Ocho Cinco” and “Water,” the Coke Boy general laid down gangster boasts on “Sanctuary.” Sampling famed Japanese singer Utada Hikaru, who was behind the theme songs of the Kingdom Hearts series, Black Metaphor creates a smooth landscape for French’s croons/rhymes. It’s actually grown to become one of French’s most known songs.

Lil Flip "Game Over (Flip)" (2004)

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Album: U Gotta Feel Me
Producer: Nick Fury
The Sample: "Theme" (Ms. Pac Man)

Lil Fip’s “Game Over (Flip)” was the biggest known single in the early 2000s that sampled the Pac-Man theme. For the Houston rapper, the single took off for him, showcasing his trademark flow over a glossy beat. Despite the pitfalls of Namco filing a lawsuit against him and Sony for copyright infringement, the single helped his double album reach Platinum status.

Eminem, J-Black, and Masta Ace "Hellbound" (2002)

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Album: Game Over
Producer: N/A
The Sample: “Theme of Cervantes” (Soul Calibur)

Sega Dreamcast fought for brand supremacy as the system that carried fighting games that were near arcade-perfect ports. Though Soul Calibur was a launch title for The Dreamcast, its legacy lived on years later on “Hellbound.” Originally appearing on Yosumi Records compilation album Game Over, “Hellbound” featured various soundbytes from the video game that included the iconic logan: “Welcome back to the stage of history.” On the track, Em sounds hungrier than ever, while J-Black and Master Ace fight back with strong lyrics.

Jay Z "Money, Cash, Hoes" f/ DMX (1999)

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Album: Vol. 2 … Hard Knock Life
Producer: Swizz Beatz
The Sample: “The Thief’s Theme” (Golden Axe)

Superproducer Swizz Beatz probably didn’t want to reveal his sampling secrets, but the sounds of Golden Axe are too familiar. Hov was most likely more concerned with keeping his priorities straight (money, cash, and hoes), then incorporating a cool Easter egg for his gamer fans. Regardless, the beginning seconds of Golden Axe as the foundation for the entire record is pretty amazing.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince "Human Video Game" (1988)

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Album: He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper
Producer: DJ Jazzy Jeff
The Sample: “Donkey Kong Start” (Donkey Kong Arcade)

For all you '80s babies, let this song bring you back to when you burned all your quarters at the local arcade. Before Will Smith was a big movie star, he was a rapper who went by the name of The Fresh Prince. Joining forces with DJ Jazzy Jeff, the pair delivered their buzzworthy debut Rock The House and followed that with the more successful He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper. Aside from the Grammy Award-winning single “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” the LP included a pure homage to video games called “Human Video Game.” Sampling the original Donkey Kong, the Fresh Prince kicked a narrative about obsessing over video games and playing them until the wee hours of the morning. Oh, things just never change.

Wax & EOM "Coins" (2011)

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Album: N/A
Producer: EOM
The Sample: “Luigi’s Mansion Theme”

YouTube star Wax was working on his Def Jam debut at the time, building his fanbase through a steady supply of singles. Off his untitled album, the DMV upstart released “Coins,” which used a sample from Luigi’s Mansion and contained appropriate coin sound effects. The video finds Wax and producer EOM using various props to complement the lyrics. Is it just us or does Wax move like a Boo here?

FatKidsBrotha "Drive Mother**** Drive" f/ Snubnose Frankenstein (2014)

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Album: Eastside Paradise II
Producer: FatKidsBrotha
The Sample: “A Strange Happening” (Chrono Trigger)

Atlanta’s Two-9 is getting some shine lately. With their recently announced joint mixtape with Taylor Gang dropping this summer, the collective is about to make a big impact and elevate their status in hip-hop. One of the crew’s core duos is FatKidsBrotha, who are quickly rising after their new mixtape Eastside Paradise II garnered some attention. It’s pretty much well-known at this point that producers love sampling Chrono Trigger and FatKids are the next in line with “Drive Mother**** Drive.” Whenever you felt yourself in a bind in CT, this music played. For these guys though, it’s a bass-heavy song filled with rhymes about having nothing and coming up big.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony "Eternal" (1995)

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Album: E. 1999 Eternal
Producers: DJ U-Neek, Tony-C, Kenny McCloud
The Sample: Character Bio Music (Eternal Champions)

In 1993, Sega was trying to compete with fighting game franchises Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, so they tried their hand in the arena with Eternal Champions. Sticking to the theme of 1999 to infinitely, Bone Thugs created “Eternal,” a cut that showcases each of their styles through a menacing and somber backdrop. Producer/DJ U-Neek takes music from the Sega Genesis fighting game to keep the consistency going. Many fans of Eternal Champions knew that the game had awesome music, including U-Neek, who also sampled the bad ending credits on “Crossroads.”

Fat Joe "Take A Look At My Life" (2002)

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Album: Loyalty
Producer: Buckwild
The Sample: Menu Music (Navy Field)

Fat Joe’s opening track to his 2002 Loyalty was triumphant in the sense that he wanted you to understand why hasn’t much changed since he got famous. In the video, Joey Crack is posted up in the projects with his Terror Squad crew, letting everyone know that he lives and breathes the BX life. Adding more weight to the anthem is Buckwild’s sample of Navy Field. Get your fleet ready.

Kool G Rap and Prinz "We G's" (2006)

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Album: N/A
Producer: Green Lantern
The Sample: Fight Song (Final Fantasy VII)

Final Fantasy VII. You’ve probably heard of it, right? The best-selling RPG that has topped many “all time” lists is an item in every gamer’s collection. Aside from an engaging storyline and fun gameplay, the game had a fantastic soundtrack that you couldn’t help but memorize. On this early mixtape cut, Queens rapper Kool G Rap and rap upstart Prinz hop on a Final Fantasy-themed song called “We G’s.” There’s a strong possibility that you’ve level grinding a lot in FFVII, so this sample isn’t too far away from the original.

Percee P "2 Brothers From The Gutter" f/ Diamond D (2007)

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Album: Perseverance
Producer: Madlib
The Sample: Title Theme (Contra)

Two veterans of the underground scene made history. On 2007’s “2 Brothers From The Gutter,” the boogie down Bronx is heavily represented by Percee P and rapper/producer Diamond D of D.I.T.C. Produced by the legendary Madlib, it samples the opening theme from Contra and sounds vintage enough with his signature stutter drums. Although Madlib rarely samples video games, he manages to concoct something special here. The track appeared on Percee P’s full-length album, Perseverance, which was released through Stones Throw Records.

Indo G "Throw Them Thangs" f/ Three 6 Mafia (1998)

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Album: Angel Dust
Producers: DJ Paul, Juicy J
The Sample: Pause Menu (GoldenEye 007)

GoldenEye 007 is one of the most coveted Bond games that exploded the N64’s popularity thanks to its riveting storyline and incredible multi-player. While the first-shoot shooter has plenty of reboots and remakes, the original version is highly recognizable among N64 fans. There are memorable scenes like the bungee jumping scene, but it also contained some of the best music in a James Bond franchise.

Memphis rapper Indo G, who was affiliated with Three 6 Mafia, collaborated with the crew for “Throw Dem Thangs.” The producers—DJ Paul and Juicy J—sample a part of GoldenEye’s pause menu that instantly brings back a lot of memories. Indo G holds his own on the instrumental, but its Lord Infamous who shines with effortless bars.

J. Cole "Dollar and a Dream III" (2012)

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Album: Cole World: The Sideline Story
Producers: The University, J. Cole
The Sample: Yoko Shimomura “Darkness of the Unknown” (Kingdom Hearts II: Original Soundtrack)

J. Cole’s “Dollar and a Dream” song series evokes plenty of inspiration for those struggling to find their way towards success. “Dollar and a Dream III,” which appeared on his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, is nearly five minutes of him rapping about the highs of lows of his current state of mind. The lyrical assault is supplemented by an instrumental co-produced by himself, where he adds in Yoko Shimoura’s “Darkness of the Unknown” from Kingdom Hearts II. You hear bits and pieces of the sample in the song, and it goes to show you that Cole lives up to his title of being a master of setting up a story.

SpaceGhostPurrp "Get Yuh Head Bust" (2012)

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Album: Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles Of SpaceGhostPurrp
Producer: SpaceGhostPurrp
The Sample: “The Pit Stage” Mortal Kombat II)

SpaceGhostPurrp followed in the same footsteps of Three 6 Mafia and Death Grips for championing a grimly colored sound not normally found in hip-hop. A few of his earlier works, for example, Blackland Radio 66.6 (1991), was filled with material that sampled a weirder, darker influence that fit the use of Mortal Kombat’s soundtrack. The original version of “Get Yah Head Bust” was a lot more raw, and lo-fi, but still carried the same eerie vibe in the remastered version. SGP combines the deadly pit stage theme music, Mortal Kombat’s mythical “whoopsie” and “toasty,” and his own intense rhymes for a menacing atmosphere. Lines like “I am the rawest, never the flawest/Flawless victory, her pu**y is callin’” show he was probably playing a lot of MK tournaments while cutting up this album.

Charles Hamilton "Where's My F****** Genesis?" (2009)

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Album: Sonic The Hamilton
Producer: Charles Hamilton
The Sample: “The Mystic Zone” (Sonic The Hedgehog 2)

Charles Hamilton really worships Sonic The Hedgehog. A lot. To show his love and appreciation to Sega’s iconic character, he paints a scenario of whether he should carry on with his morning route, or feed into his “insatiable need” to play Sonic. Over a sample of Sonic 2’s “The Mystic Zone,: Charles showcased he’s actually a pretty good rapper with palatable verses. Oh, Charles The Hamilton, when are you gonna drop a new mixtape with Sonic Adventure samples?

Lil Wayne "She Will" f/ Drake (2011)

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Album: Tha Carter IV
Producer: T-Minus
The Sample: Jim Guthrie “The Cloud” (Sword and Sworcery LP: The Ballad of the Space Babies)

We already know when Lil Wayne and Drake come together—its fire. The two YMCMB MCs have collaborated on a number of cuts, ranging from top-selling singles to mixtape throwaways. Weezy grabbed Drake for “She Will,” which includes a sample of the score from the iOS gem Sword and Sworcery. As with any obscure sample, T-Minus probably wanted to keep this one a secret, but the guys at Superbrothers are probably pumped to hear their soundtrack on a Wayne record.

Busta Rhymes "The Game Room" f/ Lil Fame of M.O.P. (2009)

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Cam'ron "Troublemakers" f/ 40 Cal and Penz (2007)

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Album: Public Enemy #1
Producer: N/A
The Sample: “One-Winged Angel (Orchestral Version)” (Final Fantasy VII)

Cam’ron’s swag gets better over time. These days, though, Killa teased us with a long-awaited Diplomats reunion after the A-Trak and Just Blaze-produced “Dipshits” was met with a bunch of “holy shit!” responses. But back then, Cam hopped on the trend of rapping over video game samples and did it effortlessly. Floating over Sephiroth’s bone-chilling “One-Winged Angel” theme song, Killa and his pals hit listeners hard with poignant street raps.

Curren$y "Star Power" (2009)

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Album: N/A
Producer: N.O.L.
The Sample: “Star Theme” (Super Mario Bros.)

Power-ups in every Super Mario game are lifesavers. There are a lot to choose from nowadays (you really can’t go wrong with Boo Mario), but nothing beats the classic "Star Power." The theme song, too, has become engraved in our minds since our adolescent years. On this freebie, Spitta rides the invincibility wave and snaps.

Lil B "I Love You" (2012)

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Album: God’s Father
Producer: PicheDreams
The Sample: “Besaid Island” (Final Fantasy X)

The Based God is lives by spreading positivity and being thankful for everything. In fact, the final song on Lil B’s God’s Father has him showing his appreciation for his fans and simply stating that he loves them. Backed by the elegant pianos and strings from Masashi Hamauzu’s “Besaid Island” theme, B’s heartfelt confessions sounds comforting. On that note, we’re gonna go ahead and fire up Final Fantasy X again for some Blitzball. Shout out to the Aurochs.

Lil Wayne "Trigger Finger" f/ Soulja Boy (2013)

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Album: I Am Not A Human Being II
Producers: Juicy J, Crazy Mike
The Sample: “Leonardo’s Inventions Pt. 1” (Assassin’s Creed II)

Lil Wayne’s has proven in recent weeks that he’s back in rapping mode. His most recent release, I Am Not A Human Being II, was a slept-on album that had standout Weezy tracks like “Gunwalk,” “Wowzers” and “Trigger Finger.” Music from Assassin’s Creed II seems like the perfect pair for Wayne’s stream of conscious rhymes about being trigger-happy.

Childish Gambino "Eat Your Vegetables" (2012)

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Album: N/A
Producer: Chemist
The Sample: “Aquatic Ambiance” (Donkey Kong Country)

Childish Gambino a.k.a. D-Money goes in with a mean flow on his promotional single, “Eat Your Vegetables.” Chemist handles the production, where he serves up a hazy, drum-heavy beat for Gambino to perform lyrical acrobatics all over. This sample is taken from Donkey Country Country, specifically all the underwater levels featuring DK’s pal Enguarde. Weaving in the piano riff and letting the score play in full at the end, “Eat Your Vegetables” has plenty of replay value.

Wale "Chun Li" f/ Nipsey Hu$$le (2012)

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Album: Folarin
Producer: Cardo
The Sample: Chun-Li's Lighting Kick

While Wale is getting the reputation to be a huge wrestling buff, the D.C. rapper is also known as a video game enthusiast too. In 2012, he delivered his best release since The Mixtape About Nothing called Folarin that contained a lot of fun songs, including his ode to Street Figher’s Chun-Li. On the hook, Chun-Li’s yell when she does “Lighting Kick” is sampled during the hook. It sounds like she is saying “yup” when Wale throws down lines about having rare kicks and a lot of women. You couldn’t have a picked a better person to be your yes woman, Wale.

Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire "Illest N***** Breathin'" f/ Goldie Glo (2013)

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Album: N/A
Producer: J5atron
The Sample: "Mortal Kombat"

Mr. MFN eXquire and Goldie Glo wake up feeling like they are on top of the world. Together, with the help of producer J5atron, they stake their claim as the “Illest N***** Breathin’” in a song that didn’t make the cut for Passion & Power. Peppering in Mortal Kombat sound bites (“Toasty!”), the gritty banger lets us know they are running the show.

Saigon "Get Busy" (2010)

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Album: N/A
Producer: Canei Finch
The Sample: "Super Mario Bros Original Theme"

The Super Mario Bros. theme song is the most played and most recognizable video game music around. Within seconds of Saigon’s “Get Busy,” you are already getting flashbacks of your former 12-year-old self. But the Brooklyn rapper’s story wasn’t as lighthearted as the song suggested. Usual street tales revolving around drug deals and gangbanging are accentuated by references from Super Mario. As you would expect, Saigon comes with sharp rhymes and doesn’t disappoint.

Joey Bada$$ "FromdaTomb$" (2012) f/ Chuck Strangers

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Album: 1999
Producer: Chuck Strangers
The Sample: "Main Theme" (L.A. Noire)

L.A. Noire was a bit different than what we have seen from Rockstar. The detective thriller set in the 1940s featured a smoldering jazzy soundtrack that was a huge highlight. Similarly, Joey Bada$$’s 1999 blew up to critical acclaim based on vintage beats and a few Brooklyn kids who could rap circles around just about anybody. The two worlds collide in “FromdaTomb$,” which features a theme song from L.A. Noire if you are paying close attention. You gotta give it up for Chuck Strangers who adds his flare to the chopped up record.

Wiz Khalifa "Never Been" (2010) and "Never Been (Part II)" (2012) f/ Rick Ross and Amber Rose

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Albums: Kush & OJ and Taylor Allderdice
Producer: Sledgren
The Sample: "Schala's Theme" and "Secret of the Forest" (Chrono Trigger)

Wiz Khalifa has a track record of sampling video games and turning those joints into something fans shouldn’t skip over. As early as “Ms. Rightfernow,” Wiz has shown his knowledge of old school gaming runs deep, so it is not too surprising his in-house producer Sledgren digs into the soundtrack of the best JRPG in Super Nintendo history. Chrono Trigger enthusiasts immediately know both editions of “Never Been” include Yasunori Mitsuda’s excellent compositions. It just further proves that the legacy of Chrono Trigger lives on. So, when are we getting that sequel, Square Enix?

Del The Funky Homosapien & Khaos Unique "Proto Culture" (2000)

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Album: Both Sides of the Brain
Producer: Del and Khaos Unique
The Sample: Morrigan’s Victory (Darkstalkers)

Del The Funky Homosapien has been a staple in the West Coast underground since aligning himself with Oakland’s Hieroglyphics crew. He’s continued to develop his style his own way, building a reputation for solid beats and technically tight rhymes. During a decade where Nintendo, Sony and Sega dominated video gaming, Del had to do it right by expressing his love for it all with “Proto Culture.” Featuring Khaos Unique, the two MCs nerd out with all sorts of video game references from The Legend Of Zelda to Sonic Adventure. Listen closely and the song actually samples the bat-winged vixen Morrigan’s “Victory” theme. Trust, this definitely pleased a lot of Darkstalkers fanatics.

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