No other genre embodies the open-source mentality as well as hip-hop does. Samples and loops are the raw material for backing tracks, and the endless stream of remixes, collaborations and guest spots makes it an ever-evolving art form. This, of course, is a highfalutin explanation for what takes place on Safety Words' latest release, The Ghostfaced Pixels Mixtape: The collection takes the rhymes of the Wu-Tang Clan (and assorted solo projects) and sets them to the eight-bit sounds of the original Nintendo Entertainment System's games. Safety Words is the aegis of DJ Parisian (Ian Jones) and Dr. Phelonious (Sean Price). The latter's MySpace page claims that he sounds like "cheap equipment + Sisyphean hustle," which is a good enough equation for Pixels. (In short, if you've ever wondered what Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Brooklyn Zoo" would sound like over the music from Paperboy, well, now you know.)
To call this undertaking nerdy is an understatement, but it's also a mash-up that the Wu-Tang Clan could be proud of: It's a short jump from Wu-Tang's notorious love of martial-arts culture to video-game geekery. "Criminolgo" ends with the Safety Words boys playing Contra and discussing the best way to clean the dust out of a Nintendo cartridge; later, Parisian loses his shit arguing for the supremacy of the divisive Super Mario Bros. 2. The whole undertaking may sound like the result of a stoned epiphany or a drunken bet ("Hey, you know what would sound really cool..."), but it's really a love letter to Price and Jones' twin loves of hip-hop and classic video games. Mixing the can't-miss verses of the Wu-Tang with the beguiling, nostalgia-inducing chiptune music may sound like a one-off joke, and the 70-minute mix may be a touch too long. But, as it turns out, Ghostface Killah's "Run" sounds pretty boss on top of the chunky, arpeggiated sounds from Solstice Speed Run.
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