5 Incredible Hip-hop Tracks That Sample Video Game Music


Editor's Note: This post links to hip-hop/rap tracks that contain explicit lyrics and sexual references. Listen at your own discretion.

Looking back at the history of hip-hop music, artists have a long-standing tradition of remixing and sampling other artists' songs, including ones from other genres. This sometimes extends beyond the medium, as when these musicians borrowed these iconic tracks from video games:

Track: Hellbound
Artists: Eminem, Masta Ace and J-Black
Album: Game Over (2000)

Sample: Sacrifice
Artist: Takanori Otsuka
Game: Soulcalibur (1999)

Hellbound, a single by rappers Eminem, Masta Ace, and J-Black, actually made it on top music charts in Europe in 2002. In it, you can hear Soulcalibur's announcer and one of the game's ending themes, Sacrifice, sampled throughout.

Track: Eat Your Vegetables
Artists: Childish Gambino
Album: Royalty (2012)

Sample: Aquatic Ambience
Artist: David Wise
Game: Donkey Kong Country (1994)

"[My producer] Chemist produced [Eat Your Vegetables.] He actually samples a lot of video games, specifically Donkey Kong," Childish Gambino explains in an interview with Fuse about the single. "I didn't even know [Aquatic Ambience was in] it, which was really funny, because nerds were losing their minds about it..."

Track: Heavy
Artist: Vakill
Album: Armor of God (2011)

Sample: Secret of the Forest
Artist: Yasunori Mitsuda
Game: Chrono Trigger (1995)

Chrono Trigger's soundtrack is a popular one to cover by remixers. Vakill's sampling of Secret of the Forest with punchy bass drum beats is one of the essentials to listen to.

Track: FromdaTomb$
Artist: Joey Bada$$ feat. Chuck Strangers
Album: 1999 (2012)

Sample: Main Theme
Artist: Andrew Hale
Game: L.A. Noire (2011)

Fromdatomb$ recalls the classic mainstream hip-hop sound from the 1980s and 90s era, with the soulful, jazzy twist of L.A. Noire's theme song as its backing track.

Track: Soul Survivor
Artist: Young Jeezy feat. Akon
Album: Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (2005)

Sample: Bunker 2 Theme
Artist: Graeme Norgate and Grant Kirkhope
Game: GoldenEye 007 (1997)

In 2005, Young Jeezy and Akon's Soul Survivor hit number one as a single on both the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Rap Songs charts. You'll hear a xylophone riff start in the background at about the 60 second-mark, which is a modified sample of GoldenEye 007's Bunker 2 level theme.

Bonus Track Honorable mention:

Does Drake really sample Final Fantasy music on his new album, Scorpion?

Track: Final Fantasy
Artist: Drake
Album: Scorpion (2018)

Sample (Or so you thought...): Prelude Theme
Artist: Nobuo Uematsu
Game: Final Fantasy series (1987-2018)

Editor's note: Log in to Spotify's web player or desktop client to hear the full version of Drake's Final Fantasy above.

Last week, Canadian rapper Drake released his latest album, Scorpion. Many fans thought that its 24th track, Final Fantasy, samples the Final Fantasy game series' prelude theme. At first, it sounds like Drake rearranges the theme's notes out of sequence, adding that dreamy, mysterious vibe the JRPG series is known for to the song.

As it turns out, Drake's track doesn't sample Final Fantasy music at all. The familiar-sounding melody is actually from the 1969 Dorothy Ashby track Windmills of Your Mind, according to the popular music database WhoSampled.

Know of any more great hip-hop tracks that sampled video game music? Tell us in the comments or at our contact us page and we might share them on our next podcast episode!