On this day in 1981, the video-game juggernaut that was Donkey Kong first saw release. It was a game that broke new ground and keeps finding an audience today. It was the first game to feature Mario (who, by the by, was cast as an abusive pet owner seeking to re-capture his poor gorilla), the first arcade game to use cut scenes to tell a story, and the title that launched Nintendo as the force that would pull the entire video-game industry back from the brink.
As for me...I will always remember being a kid and a Nintendo Power subscriber who was one of the lucky ones to receive a VHS tape full of footage from Donkey Kong Country addressed to me in the mail. That's what we had before YouTube, kids, and I have never felt more like a VIP before or since. It's still one of my Top 10 games of all time.
Donkey Kong has also made an impact on the world of music, and today we salute that impact with five songs.
5. Buckner & Garcia, "Do the Donkey Kong" Let me give you some advice. When you write a novelty song about something like Pac-Man and record executives say they'll pay you for a whole album exactly like that, say "no" if you ever plan on being known for anything else. That's what happened to Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia in 1982 with
4. Super 8 Bit Brothers, "Don't Sell the Barrels to the Monkey" Coming out of Chicago is a great video-game-inspired dance act, and their Donkey Kong tribute is amazing. First of all, it's got a great story about a desperate barrel salesman just looking to take care of his family who ends losing a crisis of conscience and helping King start his rampage.
On top of that it's an electro-reggae track with a butt-rock bridge, and that's lovely.
3. George Andreas and Chris Sutherland, "DK Rap" You know how sometimes in your life you sort of lose track of what you're doing, and the next thing you know you've got a new outfit and a baffling music selection in your iPod? Donkey Kong 64 is the Donkey Kong franchise's version of that. Witness the glory of the rap song from the introduction, showcasing the finest of cornball hip-hop seen since the Fat Boys released "Are You Ready for Freddy?".
List continues on the next page.
2. Das Racist, "Rainbow in the Dark For this one I'm going to quote verbatim from the lyrics...
Jokes, it's us, come on, be real Second Latin rapper to like the Beatles But on the real yo they swearing I'm blacker than Cheadle Like Don King playing Donkey Kong Country at his cousin's house You don't even know what it's about
I'm convinced that if I could figure out what that means I would ascend to a higher level of being.
1. TV's Kyle, "King of Kong" There are way more rap songs involving Donkey Kong than I would ever have thought there would be. What, can't no one do me a soulful acoustic ballad about a monkey? Michael Jackson did one about a rat. Oh well, Let's sign off with TV's Kyle and his excellent "My future's so bright I got to wear shades" approach to being the best at a game that took the world by storm 33 years ago. Here's hoping for another three decades of monkey shines (on), you crazy diamond.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism