Tony Hawk appears on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at the NBC Studios on October 1, 2004 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
*Note: The music listed has uncensored profanity. Listener discretion is advised*
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) is one of the most beloved game series of the 2000’s. It was emblematic of the times and helped directly lead to the growth of things like the X-Games and other alternative sports. And now with the eventual release of the THPS documentary, “Pretending I’m Superman”, people are waxing poetic about one of the most influential games of all time. A massive part as to why THPS was so memorable was its amazing soundtracks. Collecting secret tapes to a smattering of Ska, Punk and Hip-Hop sounds help define a generation’s musical taste and made it possible for artists to use video games as a promotional vessel for their art.
Hip-Hop, in particular, saw tons of artists either jump start their careers due to THPS or seen their older works get second life atop the backdrop of Darkgrinds and Fingerflip Airwalks. And not to mention, THPS games often had some of the best tracks the now defunct Defenitive Jux Records had to offer. So here’s some of the best hip-hop tracks from THPS both classic and underground.
Non Compos Mentis – Haiku D’Etat
Very few songs were as chill and atmospheric as Non Compos Mentis in THPS 4. Sliding through the London level to this song is one of the most relaxing things in gaming to be honest. This Bay Area collective consisting of Mikah 9, Aceyalone and Abstract Rude is one of the most memorable tracks by being one that does the least to distract from the game play. Its the closest thing THPS could make to ASMR. Non Compos Mentis is also an old legalese term for “not in ones right mind”. Its an almost oxymoronic title compared to such a low-fi song.
Mass Appeal – Gangstarr
Skating and classic hip-hop go together like Carhartts and ‘Timbs. Its almost impossible to think of the series without a healthy helping of 90’s rap. And it doesn’t get much more classic than the NY duo of Gangstarr. DJ Premier and Guru blessed THPS 4 with one of their biggest hits from 1994 in Mass Appeal. Guru to this day has one of the most distinct voices in all of hip-hop and Primo’s one of a kind production makes Mass Appeal a perfect fit for the game.
Day at The Races – Jurassic 5 feat. Big Daddy Kane
Every now and then there’s a track that you hear that could only be described as “He flowin'”. The pace of Day At The Races is apt for its litany of syllable twisting and masterful wordplay underneath a driving bass line from David Axlerod’s “Urizen”. There is not one weak verse in the song and its a perfect song for stringing together long combos through manuals and varials in Tony Hawk Underground.
B-Boy Document ’99 – Skillz, Mos Def, High & Mighty
In one of the first standout hip-hop songs in the series, “B-Boy Document ’99” was one of the first significant forays from video games into the world of underground hip-hop in general. Featuring two master wordsmiths in Skillz and High & Mighty, but also featuring the nascent Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey), who was fresh off the release of his seminal work “Black on Both Sides”. It was eye opening to tons of gamers who had never heard the kind of rap that highlighted wordplay over gangster-ism. It would be a song that set the tone for the type of rap that would be featured in the series for years after.
The World Is Yours – Nas
One of the best songs from one of the greatest rap albums ever created from one of the most prolific MC’s of all time. How can this not be one of the top tracks featured in THPS? Nas’ 94 classic “The World is Yours” is a sublime track. Its motivational without being corny. Its rooted and filled with lines that other artist have quoted for 20+ years. There isn’t much to say about the song other than its easily one of the best songs in THPS, because its one of the best, period.