Written by Colin Burns // Edited by Andrew Busch // Header Image VG247
Video game music is sometimes so understated that you can make it through a whole game without even acknowledging it. When the game is stripped away, you can really begin to appreciate some of this incredible music. Every week I will share a few of my favorite songs from one of my favorite games. Some of these games will be classics while others may have been regrettably forgotten or overshadowed. This week, it’s all in the mind with PaRappa the Rapper.
PaRappa the Rapper was released on the PSX in Japan in 1996 and came to America 10 months later. This game is hailed as the original rhythm game. Yes, you can blame PaRappa for spawning Guitar Hero and the like but the only person you can blame for wasting money on big dumb plastic controllers is yourself! This was the first game to feature music by veteran Japanese artist, Masaya Matsuura. He had made a name for himself playing in a Japanese experimental rock band and his talents translated surprisingly well to games. PaRappa features mainly hip-hop inspired songs that all have very thoughtful arrangements. Because this is a music game, I will do my best to avoid songs that you play in levels so you can experience them on your own terms and some of the less prominent tracks on the OST are amazing. Just remember, you gotta believe!
Track 1: The Jet Baby
This song plays during a movie that PaRappa and his buddies go to see in the opening cutscene of the game. There is nothing else like this in the game. Jet Baby is a standard surf rock jam with a layer of Matsuura’s odd-ball flavoring on it. This song is so perfect that it is almost a parody of a real surf rock song. The vocal quality is unique but everything hangs together nicely. It nails the dweeb sound that reminds me of They Might Be Giants. It’s a shame this song is only 40 seconds! I wish there were a complete version even if it just repeated this section two more times. This is a very guitar heavy track and Matsuura would return to these sounds in pseudo sequel, UmJammer Lammy.
Track 2: Love You RAP
This is a very bare-bones composition compared to most of the music in PaRap. The beat is simple and non-intrusive so all of your attention is focused on the rap. It is pretty easy to tell that this one is from the 90′s. This is the only time you here this voice rapping in the game and the unevenness of the rap makes this whole song feel a little off kilter. The main hook is strangely catchy and will stay with you for awhile. Just like every other rap in the game, the words make absolutely no sense but they still fit perfectly. The lyrics of this game definitely prioritize sounding awesome over coherence. This is possibly the darkest rap in the game.
Track 3: Funny Love
This is my favorite song in the whole game. It is perfect. The melody masterful. The range is incredible. The instrumentation is very fleshed out. This is Masaya Matsuura doing what he does best; This is an unabashed pop song. If this was free from the shackles of a video game it surely would have been a number one hit. The mid-tempo groove is very relaxing and sucks you right into the song. The synth leads are piercing in the best way possible. Matsuura performed a version of this song live at a PlayStation event and it holds up well even without the original singer.
BONUS: Brand New Menu
Check out Masaya Matsuura’s SoundCloud for some other amazing tracks. Brand New Menu is a song I regularly listen to and you can also find more of his game related music here. More people should know that this stuff exists!
So those were my favorite songs from PaRappa the Rapper besides the main level songs. For the record, the best rap battle song is Prince Fleaswallow’s RAP. I hope this reminded you of how great some of the lesser known tracks of the game are or, if you have never played this, I hope this has convinced you to check it out. Matsuura makes amazingly unique music and the projects that he works on are just as insane. Be sure to check out all of the NanaOn-Sha games as each one offers a one of a kind experience that should not be missed. “See if everybody from way up above!”