99 Problems but saving Zelda ain't one - Jay-Z X Link's Awakening mashup mixtape 'Jay-Zelda'

Island beats

Feeling this album way down deep in my bones. I'm very excited to know this album has seen the light of day. When I ran across one of the tracks during another search through SoundCloud for some new tunes for the recent Link's Awakening anniversary, I was lucky enough to find a dusty, but still bumping mix of Jigga and Zelda by Aquma.

Even with my quality googlin' skills, I couldn't find much more on the album save for a handful of tracks floating nebulously about the internet. The best I could assess was that the album was either never released or simply faded into the ether thanks to expired domains and broken html links. 

I was dismayed at the thought of another lost album that I wouldn't get my hands on. A person's artistic endeavor, lost. I know I'm being a tad melodramatic, but the tracks I did hear were pretty damn catchy. Then suddenly. I get a Twitter shout out after my initial post about Aquma's tunes, and later that evening I find out that dude had just posted the album to his SoundCloud. 

The album is a fast paced 11 tracks featuring some of the most memorable themes from the oft forgotten handheld classic The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening. Sword Search, The Mysterious Woods, Nightmare, hell, even Totaka's Song makes an appearance.

On the flip side, Jay-Z has gotten the mashup treatment plenty of times at this point. There are already two Jigga fusions in my list of favorite mashup albums. Though Jay-Z didn't become Hova for nothing. Even amongst all the other Jay-Z mashups, Aquma manages to find the rhymes less traveled.

That includes the opening theme, Roc Feather, which features the flows of Jay-Z track Roc Boys. Nightmare is another standout track, with the miniboss battle music featuring Rihanna thanks to using Jay-Z's 'Run This Town.'

Hearing a fun or oddball mashup is a grand time, but when I hear an album like this, where it's clear the producer 'gets' the music he is combining, I could almost hear the extra thought that was put in to bring the most of each ingredient, or maybe I just think about the similarities between rap and video games too much. Either way, I'm glad Aquma was awesome enough to oblige. Hopefully he finds time for another mashup mix or two in between programming games.

Jay-Z + Zelda. This is a collection of beats and mashups I made with hip hop drums, Jay-Z raps, and samples from the Game Boy classic The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

I worked on these off and on between 2009-2012. It was a very personal project that ended up becoming too big for it’s own good. Trying to make a masterpiece became too daunting. I had so many song ideas, things to experiment with, completeness I felt like it needed, production skills I lacked, computers that crashed, and not to mention a life I needed to get going. So I avoided working on it and eventually just abandoned the project completely.

I saw many mashups mixing video game music and Jay-Z raps come and go. Jay-Zelda began to feel kinda trite for me (even though I still rock a T-shirt with the art on it).

Then one summer Saturday, I saw a post from the passionate genoboost at GameMusic4all.com giving “Roc Feather” a shout-out and telling a story about their experience with the game. The writer shared how they got stuck early in the game and explored the world on their own terms. Funny thing is, the same thing happened to me! That memory is what endeared this game, its music, and this project to me so much in the first place.

So I decided to round up the tracks that I made in their rough, poorly mixed glory. The passion is there, though it feels a little uneven at times. Lots of ideas left on the floor. I forgot how much fun I had making these songs. These days, I’d rather spend my time making my own games than revisiting an older project from 8 years ago. But I shouldn’t hoard what I’ve already made if some people who have similar fond memories would really enjoy them.

I thought this thing wouldn’t see the light of day, but fuck it. Here’s the Jay-Zelda lost tape. Enjoy!

Jay-Z Triforce image by Tina Horton (cargocollective.com/tinaharuna)
— Aquma