The world of Hip Hop and video games are set to collide with the release of the highly anticipated Afro Samurai 2: Revenge Of Kuma fromVersus Evil/Redacted Studios. The single-player game is the latest installment of the martial arts tale which began with the original 2009 edition.
AS2 once again incorporates music procured by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, but this time little-known musicians have the opportunity to submit tunes for possible placement on the soundtrack. David Robinson, president/founder of Redacted Studios, along with music artist Roberto “Visualeyes” McCoy, spoke with AllHipHop.com about the Afro Samurai2 contest.
“I’m not here to judge you. It’s like you’re in an ice cream shop, and I’m trying to find a flavor I can sell 100 million gallons of. But if you’re making pistachio that doesn’t make it wrong,” says Robinson. “What I’m asking people to do is listen to the previous Afro music and see if you can hit this tone. See if you can hit this key which is poetry about family, love, and lost that makes you feel powerful when you listen to it. It’s what we call the ‘Afro Vibe.’”
Visualeyes adds, “I couldn’t be anymore blessed that Afro Samurai is interactive with the next revolution of music, being that many people can put out their talent and try to be picked up through this source."
The California based rhymer’s involvement with Afro Samurai 2 perfectly symbolizes the team’s goal of providing untapped talent the opportunity to have their music exposed to hundreds of thousands of gamers.
Robinson discovered Visualeyes at an Oakland area grocery store. Viz handed Robinson a CD of his music, not knowing he was the man that partnered with RZA for the soundtrack to the first Afro Samurai game.The CD sat in Robinson's vehicle until weeks later when the person cleaning his car decided not to throw it out believing the item might be important.
“It let me know God needed me to hear this,” states Robinson. “I live in Oakland, but my studio is in Malibu. I was on my way to work, and I turned around and drove all the way back to Safeway. I literally got in Roberto's face like a groupie, and said, ‘Hey man, I got to talk to you about your music.’"
The happenstance eventually led to a year-long process of Robinson and Visualeyes collaborating to produce the sounds that will serve as an operatic representation of the emotions on Afro Samurai 2.
“The process has not been easy at all. It’s been a lot of trial-and-error and a lot of push-and-pull,” admits Visualeyes. “One of the things Dave said to me was that he wanted music that is stronger than the video game itself. He wants music that will stand out on its own.”
Before teaming up with Robinson, Visualeyes was crafting his own poetic tunes. Inspired by James Brown, Prince, and classic Hip Hop, McCoy began recording at the age of 17. Up next is a project titled Powerful Music.
“Being a true listener was the difference for me. I was more interested in the way that it was said, rather than what was being said - its technique and style,” explains Visualeyes about his studying of other artist's work.
Now different musical acts can be brought into the Afro Samurai universe and the multi-million dollar ad campaign associated with the game. Legal U.S. residents over the age of 18 can submit a 2-4 minute recording to the “Afro Samurai Original Track Contest.”
The ultimate goal of the contest is not just to find other contributors for the soundtrack, but it will also hopefully provide a stepping stone for the artists to earn profit in alternative mediums. According to Robinson, Visualeyes and all participants will maintain ownership of their music as well.
"I got mine. I’ve been blessed. I’m trying to get into heaven. I need to open some doors, because I was blessed," conveys the 20 year veteran of the gaming industry.
Robinson reveals AS2 will continue to provide an outlet for up-and-coming musicians beyond the initial release of the game. Afro Samurai is being presented as a show with different seasons - 3 volumes with 12 chapters, each chapter having different background music.
The game’s storyline was written by Jim DeFelice, the co-author of American Sniper. Look for the Wu's RZA to show up in chapter 3.
“We’re creating a story that fits this bigger, broader path of how we’re talking about family, revenge, and Hip Hop. Then we're creating these cool operatic stories behind the theme,” suggests Robinson.
Redacted Studios is planning to follow-up Afro Samurai with a role-playing game called Sword King that’s centered around Hip Hop. Some mainstream rappers are hoping to take part in the project.
Robinson offers, “Imagine Afro Samurai on steroids where you have lots of Hip Hop talent from all over the world. The characters’ raps actually power the game."
In the meantime, the soundtrack for Afro Samurai 2 is set to drop around the time the game is released. Gamers and Hip Hoppers can expect an introduction to some of the top undiscovered artisans in the country.
“One of the biggest things the contest is going to do is bring out some really amazing talent. It’s going to do away with a lot of that other ‘here-and-there’ Hip Hop,” says Visualeyes.
The “Afro Samurai 2 Original Track Contest” runs from September 9 - October 7. To submit music to the contest visit here.
Follow Afro Samurai on Twitter @AfroSamuraiGame.
Watch AllHipHop.com’s premiere of Visualeyes’ new video for "Deadly Identities" from the Afro Samurai 2 soundtrack below.
PHOTOS: Versus Evil/Redacted Studios