Eminem’s surprise album drop over the weekend contains an even bigger surprise for JRPG fans: one of the tracks samples Square’s Kingdom Hearts throughout.
The track is “Good Guy”, with the sample being the female vocals in the background:
Eminem confirmed that it’s a Kingdom Hearts sample in this Rolling Stone interview:
RS: What about “Good Guy,” what’s the sample there?
EM: That’s me doing my video game thing. Kingdom Hearts. It’s a Japanese video game, and that’s the theme song from it. It’s one of the dopest melodies I’ve ever heard. Shout out Japanese video games and Japanimation for inspiration.
Filtered it, did some chops, did some processing to it. I basically made it unrecognisable, but I know they would have still found it. That’s why we had to deal with the clearance. But when I do anything I try to make it to where it’s not fully recognisable.
If it’s hard to make out just which theme song it is—he does, after all, say he’s “basically made it unrecognizable”—the track’s listing on credits/lyrics site Genius.com has the sample as Simple & Clean by Utada Hikaru, the intro song to the original Kingdom Hearts.
Rappers and producers sampling video games is almost as old as hip-hop, I know, but it’s one thing to hear Street Fighter sounds for 25 years, and another for Kingdom Hearts to make it onto an Eminem album.
That said, it’s not like this is even a first for Kingdom Hearts; J Cole fans might remember that in 2011 his Dollar And A Dream III was backed by Kingdom Hearts II’s Darkness of the Unknown.