Rap songs that reference video games

Rap and nerd culture have been intertwined from the start. Early hip-hop is littered with references to comic books, karate movies, and video games. It makes for an interesting time capsule where you can go back and listen to old records from the 90s with Super Nintendo and Mortal Kombat references, whereas today you’re more likely to hear a line on Call Of Duty or PS5.

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It flips a switch in your head when you hear a reference to a game you love in a verse. It lets you know the artist is just like you, sitting in a room somewhere playing the same game you both love. Here are some great rap lyrics that reference video games from the past few years.

ten Mac Miller – Diablo

Mac Miller Faces Cover

“Time continuum, Mortal Kombat finish them, try to find a balance to reach my balance.”

It comes from a time in Mac Miller’s music where there was no shortage of weird verses and left field to spit. At the heart of it all, however, was someone crying out for help and fearing that their bad decisions were having an irreversible effect on their future.

This unique bar is both fun and insightful, as we see Mac’s playful Mortal Kombat bar associated with trying to find balance in one’s life.


9 Denzel Curry – Pyro (2019 Leak)

Denzel Curry Kenny Beats Unlocked Cover

“I did my job, no need to call, turn your crib into a Fallout game, you got me wet bet I crawl out.”

Pyro is from a Denzel Curry collaborative EP released with Kenny Beats in early 2020. It’s a collection of tracks that exist for the sole purpose of Denzel and Kenny going as crazy as possible.

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This line, in particular, feels like a comparison of Denzel’s durability and stamina versus anyone against him. Denzel survives and thrives, and others are wiped out.

8 The Slump God & Juice Wrld Ski Goggle – Nuketown

The Slump God Stokeley Cover Ski Goggle

“Ate a Mario mushroom quickly, uh-huh.”

Let’s not pretend that comparing Mario mushrooms to actual psychedelic mushrooms is anything new. But that’s not the purpose of including this line in the list. In just one verse on this song, Ski Mask references so much more than the classic Mario mushroom line.

There are references to Thanos, Drake & Josh, Denzel Washington, Fairly Oddparents, Michael Jackson, Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants, and a few other things we can’t discuss in an all-ages setting like this. Almost all of the songs on Ski Mask The Slump God exude that same kind of nerdy, carefree energy, and it’s so fun to hear.

7 Yung Lean – Pikachu

Cover of Yung Lean Starz

“The yellow-black bracelet looks like Pikachu, cold as stone my Stone Island, posted on the roof.”

Yung Lean is an artist who refuses to do anything but improve with age. To listen to his discography cover to cover is to listen to a guy mature into adulthood and try to figure out how to communicate those feelings.

It might be hard to pick up from a line comparing the color of the jewels to Pikachu, but it’s an experience you’ll enjoy more fully when you listen to the song.

6 Lupe Fiasco – They.Resurrect.Over.New.

Lupe Fiasco Tetsuo and Youth Blanket

“Level up to the next level… TRON.”

Lupe Fiasco is a lifelong gamer who constantly communicates his connection to video games through song. They.resurrect.on.again. feels like a love letter to the classic ’80s arcade game as much as it feels like it’s something more ethereal than the listener can comprehend.

The song features an audio sample of someone playing the arcade machine as well as a chanted “TRON” in the chorus. It’s an extremely interesting listen that showcases the best of this abstract era of Lupe’s music.

5 City morgue – PTSD

City Morgue Vol 1 Cover Hell Or High Water

“Crash in the coupe, do the Crash Bandicoot.”

It’s almost ridiculous trying to break down the lyrics of City Morgue. Not because they don’t say anything meaningful, they have plenty of songs that delve into mental health and the issues they developed growing up in some of New York’s toughest neighborhoods.

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But their mix of punk and rap defies to be broken down. It’s something more basic than that. A comparison between crashing a half-million-dollar car and the way Crash Bandicoot spins only captures the tiniest bit of that “no worries at all” attitude they brought from the classic punk sound. of the 20th century in a more modernized version of the 21st century.

4 Aesop Rock – Babies with guns

Aesop Rock Bazooka Teeth Cover

“Bazooka’s Teeth Zoo, keep the paper road with janky backgrounds and favors, cradled by 12 empty Zelda heart containers.”

Aesop Rock chooses to formulate his verses in a deliberately dense way. Rarely can you listen to one of his songs and understand every bar on the first try. He’s definitely a nerd, though.

He references Zelda’s empty heart containers in this song to evoke that feeling of despair when someone is on their last leg. Like the feeling of having half a heart container left and struggling to avoid enemies while trying to find a way to stay alive.

3 Schoolboy Q – Hoover Street

Q Oxymoron Schoolboy Blanket

“Grandma said she loved me, I told her I loved her more, she always gave me things we couldn’t afford, the new Js and Tommy Hill in my drawers, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, see GoldenEye had gone to war.”

This is a touching yet heartbreaking line from Schoolboy Q. It illustrates how video games are not just a cornerstone for children, but a privilege that children from struggling families cannot not always afford.

It seems that the line Golden Eye is used for Q to say that it relates to the war found in the video game.



“Karma, in LA with that blicky playing Contra, bad guy.”

Comparing a lot of Los Angeles trouble to a scene from the run-and-gun shooter Contra isn’t necessarily inaccurate, though it seems more like JPEGMAFIA is playfully exaggerating rather than making a serious commentary on the race. guns blazing around Los Angeles.

This entire song is as boastful as it is hyper, with plenty of bars to consider as well.

1 Doja Cat – Streets

Doja Cat Hot Pink Blanket

“We play our fantasies in a real way and, no Final Fantasy, can we end these games?”

It seems like most Final Fantasy references you’ll hear in rap are to Cloud or Sephiroth. It’s an interesting use of FF because it seems to play more on the title than the content of the franchise itself.

The song is about a failed relationship that can then be reconciled. The title “Final Fantasy” comes from Hironobu Sakaguchi’s feeling that the first game in the franchise was his last attempt in the gaming industry. Doja Cat wants to end the games to prevent this new attempt to rekindle the relationship from being an ultimate failure.

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About the Author

John C. Dent