Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist MeccaGodZilla is no stranger to Japanese audiences. Indeed it is his travels and love for the country that have inspired his latest release, “Perfect 天” (ten, heaven), for which he has also taken on the new moniker “Ryu Black.” To be even more precise, the album pays homage to one Japanese export in particular — one that anybody who has ever owned an SNES should have picked up on about four lines ago.
Yes, both artist name and album title are references to Capcom’s beat-em-up franchise “Street Fighter,” the second installment of which turned 20 back in March. Every aspect of the release is littered with references to the video-game series, be it the faux-8-bit artwork designed by Ron Wimberly, or the numerous samples ripped straight from the soundtrack. When Black isn’t “spitting the heat like Dhalsim” there’s plenty of bilingual banter and skits that keep to the theme throughout and ultimately form what he terms a “Hip-Hopera,” a style that brings to mind the likes of RZA and MF Doom. A multitude of collaborators from across the world feature on the tracks, including one young singer who Black says battled and overcame ovarian cancer while they were recording the album. As such, proceeds from the release will go to Ovarian Cancer Canada, and also to Japanese disaster-relief efforts. Good-humored and for a good-cause, “Perfect 天” might not be the flawless victory that its title alludes to, but it is an enjoyable slice of Street Fighter-fueled escapism — and you don’t need to worry about getting blisters on your thumbs.