Despite being an action RPG, the sequel to Atlus’ acclaimed Persona 5 feels right at home thanks to series composer Shoji Meguro’s instrumentation.

Persona 5 Strikers

Do you remember what you felt the first time you played Persona 4? In my case, I was the proud owner of a PS Vita, and was in desperate need of some solid titles to justify the purchase. When the console was released I picked up Rayman Origins, which helped restart my love of 2D platformers that would carry on with games like Mutant Mudds and Celeste. I also nabbed Disgaea 3, a game in a genre that proved to be the perfect match for the Vita: JRPGs.

Though Disgaea and its bevy of otherworldly anime characters held my attention…


Clever use of reverb helped compensate for an underpowered piece of Nintendo tech.

The holy grail of multiplayer games. Photo Credit: Brandon Johnson

When I think back to my watermelon green Nintendo 64, a few memories roll to the front of the patch. Built in, four-player gaming, without the need for a cumbersome multi-tap adapter is unforgettable. So is the time spent not skipping the intro sequence to Donkey Kong Country 64, which might feature the most child-friendly rap song next to the Pokérap.

But the one thing I can’t get out of my head is this song right here:

The Character Select Screen Theme song from Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64

In hindsight, my N64 collection was small but solid…


Flexing at any cost is an increasingly common tenet of the genre.

Meek Mill’s 2018 studio album, Championships.

I’m not here to protect Meek Mill. I’m not even sure I could if I wanted to, but I assure you, I don’t want to. The leaked lyrics to Meek and Lil Baby’s unreleased track, “Don’t Worry” don’t need protecting. The line in question, which invokes the untimely demise of Kobe Bryant, is ill-timed and ill-conceived, taking the death of a largely adored public figure and equating it to a Scarface-esque blaze of glory.

The lyrics, which in the hours after discovery have sparked a healthy amount of social media outrage, were a misjudgement. Despite the word play, Meek’s bar…


Known for his beat tapes and remix bootlegs, producer Knxwledge distills others’ artistry into his own brand of soul.

Knxwledge’s WT.13.8

Knxwledge is the consummate crate digger. For seemingly every mainstream record he produces — Kendrick Lamar’s “Momma,” Action Bronson’s “Live from the Moon,” Roc Marciano’s “No Smoke” — he has ten more beat tapes, loosies, or remixes. His Bandcamp page is a running log of projects with near unintelligible titles, sporting shorthand that makes his work difficult to google unless you know what you’re looking for. Knxwledge is cut from the same cloth that made MF Doom, J Dilla, and 9th Wonder. His online persona is standoffish, but it pairs well with his musical virtuosity and unshakable, basement-dwelling work ethic.


A member of the up-and-coming Van Buren Records collective out of Massachusetts, Meech is crafting his brand around a self-sustaining mixture of group collaboration and personal motivation.

Barriers to Knowing by Meech

How much is a shout out worth? In this age defined by social media, likes, follows, and retweets are an almighty currency, serving as social proof to the masses. In music, these metrics carry greater significance, acting as funnels through which artists can attract new fans. If Fetty Wap wasn’t on his way to stardom in 2015 with his songs “Trap Queen” and “My Way,” then he certainly was after Drake dropped a verse on the “My Way” remix. When one artist cosigns another, they are instantly telling their fanbase, “I rock with this music, and you should too.”

For…


The fourth track on Kashif’s debut album links the well-traveled producer to a largely anonymous future funk act.

I’ve never played the six degrees of separation game, but it’s probably safe to say that it’s more fun to play with actors than musicians. Sampling and label affiliations are enough to draw a red string of fate between seemingly disparate acts like Rockwell and Eminem. Music from the late 1970s and 1980s would certainly put a damper on the fun. The funk, R&B, and post-disco stylings of the day are continually reanimated into 2020s rap music, keeping old hits alive and proliferating residual checks and YouTube copyright claims alike.

Artists like Rockwell represent one end of the spectrum. A…


Final Fantasy XIII gets a lot of hate. The soundtrack, however, is one of the game’s most beloved features. Let’s dive into how the OST, composed by Masashi Hamauzu, plays nicely with the game’s themes, its characters, and the series’ first foray into HD gaming.

It’s impossible for me to start this without addressing the elephant in the Final Fantasy XIII soundtrack. In 2009, hot off the success of her debut album, Spirit, UK-singer Leona Lewis was tapped to perform the theme song for the English version of the game.

That’s right, she didn’t write a new track for the game. Nor did she sing something composed by Final Fantasy XIII maestro Masashi Hamauzu. Lewis was presumably offered bags of cash to license her track “My Hands” for the release of the game outside of Japan.

There are plenty of reasons why I mute “My…


Yung Bae’s debut album ends with a track that aptly summarizes future funk’s infatuation with Sailor Moon.

Yung Bae’s debut album, Bae.

Is it safe to say future funk’s favorite character is Sailor Moon? Lum Invader from Urusei Yatsura could certainly give her a run for her money, but the magical girl, also known as Usagi Tsukino, is a mainstay in the genre. The 2013 release of Macross 82–99’s SAILORWAVE on Fortune 500 can serve as Tsukino’s origin story, with Neoncity Records’ vinyl press, cassette run, and digital re-releases propagating her star-speckled presence ever since.

As a mascot, Sailor Moon is a cute compliment to future funk’s thematic nostalgia. For producer’s who grew up fans of the show, her inclusion is a…


Duke’s ode to his birth sign took a downtempo interpretation of the 1970’s astrophilia.

George Duke — Faces in Reflection

Jazz fusion and space go hand in hand. The proliferation of synthesizers throughout the mid-20th Century helped forge the amicable relationship. Outer space warbles and droning wavelengths could be replicated at the push of a button. The cosmos, being largely unexplored, served as a theme around which fusion artists could build their sound, uniting listeners through a shared fascination with the great beyond.

In 1973, George Duke engaged a similar fascination on his third studio album, Faces in Reflection. …


The fifth track off of 2004’s Madvillainy eluded me for years, just as Doom himself outwitted fans for decades.

Madvillainy — Stones Throw Records

In an effort to plunge a final dagger deep into the spirit of 2020, the family of MC, producer, and man of mystery MF Doom announced on New Years Eve that he passed away on October 31, 2020.

It’s a bittersweet end to the life of Daniel Dumile. One of the greatest artists to grab the mic or grace the boards, I take solace in the fact that the news of Doom’s death came months after it happened. …

Brandon Johnson

Forever hunting for my new favorite music sample. Founder of tripleot.com & abrandbox.com. 🌴🦩

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