Jay-Z Has 99 Problems, but Chrono Jigga Ain’t One

Chrono Trigger features one of the most memorable soundtracks from an era of gaming known for its memorable soundtracks, and I can still recall the melodies from many songs even though I haven’t played the game in years. However, I remember thinking the one and only thing that could possibly make it even better would be if Jay-Z had rapped over it. My friends thought I was crazy, and not just because back when I proclaimed this Jay-Z wasn’t even a famous rapper yet. It looks like I wasn’t the only one that knew these two would be a perfect match, because rapper/game enthusiast 2 Mello has released a soundtrack that contains a variety of mash-ups of Chrono Trigger songs and Jay-Z lyrics cleverly titled Chrono Jigga. Why did he do this, beyond the blatantly obvious reason that Chrono Trigger and Jay-Z were meant to be together? Well, in his own words:

“I wanted to make this to explore the alternate reality of Jay-Z announcing himself as a gamer and going crazy on some Chrono Trigger beats!”

I frequently imagine this alternate reality as well. I have the power to imagine whatever I want, but the thing I keep going back to is a world where Jay-Z is sitting on his couch playing Chrono Trigger. My doctor has stated I must be clinically depressed if this is the best thing I can use my imagination for, but he just doesn’t understand the joy of watching Jay-Z collecting fifteen silver points from robots with metal joints.

The good news is this compilation is actually far less terrible than it sounds. A lot of the music actually matches up surprisingly well with the lyrics and while I’m not sure if any of these really improve upon the originals, they offer a different and unique perspective on the songs. What More Can I Sing and An Encore In Time both sound so seamless that most people probably wouldn’t even realize that they’re bumping to an SNES soundtrack unless they were already fans of the game. Even Beyonce is brought into the action in Gato’s In Love, which sounds like it should be the worst thing ever. Beyonce and Gato sounds like a  pairing in the worst slash fic ever written, but I can’t stop listening to it. If only Hov’s real beats were still this creative.

Not everything put together works well, however. There are a couple that are laugh out loud bad where it sounds like the music and lyrics were put together after being picked out of a hat. Masamune Problems, which is a mix-up of 99 Problems by Jay-Z and a six year old playing a recorder, is a unholy amalgamation of one of Jay-Z’s classic songs and the sounds of a bird dying. This is the only rap song you’ll ever hear where you find yourself thinking, “this uses too much mirthful woodwind” and under no circumstances could I ever imagine Jay-Z sauntering around on stage while somebody freestyles on the pan flute in the background. There is also the problem where the track in no way matches up to the vocal performance, and when the music actually drops it sounds like someone just started loudly playing to try and drown out Jay-Z. These are two competing sounds being played at the same time and neither one sounds even remotely aware of what the other is trying to do.

Still, overall this is definitely worth a listen despite a couple of hiccups. These are some of Jay-Z’s best tracks, and for the most part they are integrated brilliantly into music that has no business sounding good with it. It might not be quite as good as Ocarina of Rhyme, but the fact that it is even worthy of comparison puts it in some rare company. No word yet one when the inevitable sequel Chrono (Rick) Ross will drop, but I already predict longtime fans will queue up in anticipation before loudly and vehemently proclaiming it the worst thing ever since it isn’t entirely the same thing as the original.