Grab your bat, call your clique.
[UPDATE: I also did a full podcast discussing this album, so check that out on SUBCON episode 32]
More than any other product, franchise, character, or story, I feel like Earthbound is the most malleable. Many people who play the game have a heartfelt relationship with the old gray cartridge. It's obvious to say that Earthbound has become an incredibly influential piece of work among video game fans.
What this all means is that fans and artists have come at Earthbound from many angles, taking all their other influences and melding them with that indelible mark of Earthbound. 2 Mello has a particular knack for taking the essence of both game and artist, and, ahem, mashing them together into something that can fit into the universe of the game, as well as the life of the lyricist. It's no small feat, and it's what makes Mello's mashups so distinct.
Among rap fans, it's hard to give enough props to B.I.G. Mello takes some of Biggie's most popular rhymes and pays tribute by propping them up with ridiculously appropriate backbeats provided by Keichi Suzuki and Hip Tanaka, creators of the Earthbound soundtrack. Mello mixes them down into this alternate reality fever dream of youthful influences.
In a time when mashup artists are being deleted from YouTube and banned from SoundCloud, Mello drops one of his best mashup efforts to date. Things kicks off with the upbeat Onett Funk, a mashup of the Onett Theme and Biggie's Machine Gun Funk. It's the perfect intro, to just about everything. Mello hits a few of my favorite EB tracks, including the incomporably laid back Sailing to Scaraba mashed up with the intense rhymes of Dead Wrong.
At this point I usually try to pick out some standout tracks, but that's the problem with these 2 Mello mashups. These are the types of albums that can't just come and go in a playlist. If I hear a single track from this album (as well as former 2 Mello albums like Nastlevania) I have to start the full album from the beginning. Mello's albums aren't just a collection of mashups or remixes, they are a mood, a state of mind, like the best albums often are. Mello's mashups take me to a place in my mind that I am happy to be. A place with true words, heartfelt nostalgia, and the heart and soul of an artist creating what they love.
A little smaltzy I know, but that description fits just as appropriately when describing playing Earthbound itself. Mello isn't afraid to be introspective on his albums, and his conversations with Notorious make up a few key moments of the album. I can definitely imagine the album art, 2 Mello, with his laser gun and bowtie, wondering how Nesstorious B.I.G. can be so amazing.
2 Mello is doing amazing things too though. I can't end the review without mentioning his great work on indie game Read Only Memories from Midboss Games. Also donate to his Patreon! Let's get that rap album out a little sooner!
Every interpretation of EB seems valid to me, so long as you are truly inspired by the game, and who isn't? Especially if you're reading this review.