The year twenty-eleven marks the 20th anniversary of one of the world's most well known and influential video games Street Fighter II. As a tribute RAVAGE (aka MeccaGodZilla aka Ryu Black) releases his rapping début Perfect 天 (meaning perfect heaven or perfect ten), an album billed as a Street Fighter Musical. Note for Street Fighter Fans: despite the use of black and 天, Ryu Black is not this guy, he's one of the good guys.
What is a Street Fighter Musical? As you might imagine, it is pretty much Street Fighter meets High School Musical. Through song and skit the album tells the story of Ryu Black as he arrives in Tokyo and proceeds to fight the Shadaloo crime organization and stopping to help people along the way. The album's foundations are built upon hip-hop-afied Street Fighter samples and references to Street Fighter canon, video games and Japanese pop culture. The album is obviously aimed at a very specific audience, but even if the themes don't interest you there is enough hip-hop going on here to make it worth a listen.
Perfect 天 definitely succeeds in telling a coherent story from start to end. Unfortunately it commits the cardinal sin of hip-hop skits and embeds them into the end of songs rather than making them individual tracks. So if you include some Perfect 天 tracks in a playlist, you will be forced to listen to a minute-and-a-half or so of Street Fighter story lines. To make matters worse, a lot of the skits are really, really, really bad, with some extremely corny jokes and cringe inducing fake laughter. Even hip-hop's best skits can grow tiresome after a few rotations, so having them as separate tracks is a must. By embedding them on Perfect 天 it only serves to alienate those not interested in Street Fighter and infuriate those just wanting to party.
Considering that RAVAGE's previous work has been as a producer, it is a bit surprising to hear him on the mic. But with effortless delivery and cunning lyrical content, he easily quashes any doubts about his new venture. From the dark "Metsu Ansatsuken (暗 殺 拳) " to the light "Sakura-chan", Ryu Black successfully mixes it up from both ends of the spectrum with ease. It's not all video games and bad jokes, things get a bit more serious with suicide, life, death and the afterlife being the topics of "Cry" and "Heaven (天)". Ryu Black brings a lot of world warriors with him to the album. The track "Minasan" (meaning everyone) is just plain ol' mental, it's got some great references like
Stomp on these ninja heads like M. Bison and
I'm untouchable, Dhalsim couldn't touch me and everyone delivers some solid verses, especially Atari Blitzkrieg who seems to be the ring leader and Kensho Kuma who switches between Japanese and English, and all of this is over Ken's theme!
Thankfully RAVAGE didn't focus all of his energy on rapping. The music of Perfect 天 doesn't go overboard with the samples as it would have been all to easy to do. He manages to make a Street Fighter hip-hop album without out it sounding like a flash in the pan novelty, this album is exactly what the Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike soundtrack should of been (perhaps there is still time to submit it for the remake).
As you may have guessed, I am the target audience. I have been playing Street Fighter for 20 years, I like hip-hop and have been to Japan too many times to count. So in conclusion, Perfect 天 succeeds in creating not only a great tribute to Street Fighter but also a great hip-hop album. The lyrics and references are bound to please Street Fighter fans and the production will keep RAVAGE fans in check. Sadly the choice of forcefully delivering the story through some dreadful embedded skits is about as bad as the lousy anime story sequences in Street Fighter IV. Thankfully the actual rapping and music is good enough to make this more of a thorn in your side rather than a slap in the face. On a smaller and more pretentious note, it may also pain some hardcore Street Fighter fans and Japanese speakers to hear the pronunciation of Ryu butchered in several different ways throughout the album.
- Satsui No Hadou
- Metsu Ansatsuken ( 暗 殺 拳 )
- Satsui No Hadou
- Ansatsuken (RYU vs Ken) feat. Majesty
- Hayashi N Kaze (林 風 ) feat. Masia One
- How Hadou
- Go-en ( 御 縁 ) feat Divine Life
- Once Bit 10
- Sakura-chan feat Mio Fujii
- Heaven (天 ) feat. Mariannie
- Chun Li feat. Mega Ran & Masia One
- Yama (山 ) feat. Dashah
- Metsu Ansatsuken ( 暗 殺 拳 )
- Dojo Kun
- Minasan feat. Arablak, Baron (or Red Clay), DVS, Hona Core, Kensho Kuma, Lex, Atari Blitzkrieg, Cy Marshall Law, Hop & Jon Luca