In the year 2000 North America saw the release of Jet Grind Radio, which is more famously known worldwide by its original title, Jet Set Radio. Jet Set Radio was a game published by SEGA, on their ill-fated Dreamcast home console. The games’ plot featured an eccentric DJ named Professor K, who hosted a pirate radio station as a DJ that broadcasted a plethora of catchy tunes throughout the fictionalized city of “Tokyo-to” and into the minds of the cities’ dueling gangs of graffiti spraying Rollerbladers. “Alright.” Some may ask, “But what exactly does this have to do with a website such as Altwire?”
Basically, the simple explanation is that high among the factors of the games’ popularity, (apart from its addicting and fast-paced game-play), is its magnificent and highly regarded soundtrack. You see, before the games’ release, the genre of music which makes up its’ score was relatively unknown to mass audiences. Somewhat similarly to the early music of the then rising band Linkin Park, the game’s music blended together a thrilling mix of electronica, rap, and hip-hop. The soundtrack was largely composed by Japanese remixer, and DJ Hideki Naganuma and apart from the three already mentioned genres, the tracks proved to be sample heavy while incorporating elements of jazz, funk, and pop rock.
Now, this February and a long 18 years after one of the most famous and idolized soundtracks in gaming came to the forefront, there finally arrives an essential original album inspired by the music that captivated so many. Created by the remixer Matthew Hopkins, who goes by the name of “2 Mello” (“known by some as the award-winning composer for the indie game “2064: Read Only Memories.”) and dubbed Memories of Toyko-To: An Ode to Jet Set Radio, the album is a beautiful 17 track epic tribute that faithfully emulates that same feelings of the game’s symphonic hybrid euphoria. Just like with Jet Set Radio’s famous soundtrack, 2 Mello’s new album mostly consists heavily sampled tracks that are filled to the brim with funky bass-lines and distorted synths.
The album starts with “Pump Up The Love”, a crazily nostalgic, mainly instrumental piece that will please many fans of alternative and indie rap music. Later comes the track “Midnight in Tokyo-to (Ft. Anton Corazza)”, an ambient slow dance marinated in jazzy sax.
Another big highlight is “24 Hour Party People” which even while including somewhat obscure references and amusing lines such as “I need my time alone in my home, create my zone, prone cuddlin’ with an old movie on and I’m gone. So if you callin’ me to come back to the streets and get freaked. please I ain’t even trying to compete” the song still proves to be full of charm, in part of its sometimes dubious lyrics rather than despite them. Its a track that also has an incredibly catchy hook that you’ll discover yourself uncontrollably humming along to as you head to bed, as it stays with you in the wee hour of the morning. With so many gems gracing this soundtrack, chief among them, the vocoder saturated closing track “Ba-da-Ba”, I believe that it is clearly evident that 2 Mello’s tribute album has enough funky, fun and energetic beats to keep you rhythmically tapping your feet for days.
And it’s with that conclusion that I’ll propose that for fans of the eclectic, “Memories of Tokyo-To: An Ode to Jet Set Radio” has a lot to offer, whether you’re the most casual, or the biggest gamer, or even if you do not have an interest in gaming whatsoever. In the end, it is the rare blend of delightfully alternative indie hip-hop/pop/jazz/rap and electronica that’s coated in well-crafted samples, and the charm of the sometimes nonsensical which effortless draws you in and casts its magic upon you that makes such a release so special.
Here I go
Midnight in Tokyo-To
24 Hour Party People
“Memories of Tokyo-To: An Ode To Jet Set Radio” can be purchased digitally and on compact disc on 2 Mello’s bandcamp page at https://2mellomakes.bandcamp.com/