You haven’t heard hip-hop music until you’ve heard it Game of Thrones-style.
As reported by Zap2it, HBO has teamed with 10 different rappers to create a mixtape to hype the upcoming fourth season of the medieval-themed fantasy series while simultaneously promoting the show with African-American and Latino viewers.
Slated for release this Friday, the mixtape titled Catch the Throne employs the vocal talents of rappers Big Boi, Common, Wale, Magazeen, Bodega Bamz and others to merge dialogue from the show into new backbeats informed by Thrones.
The Wall Street Journal has obtained a sample of the Wale rap, which includes the lyrics, “I’m tellin’ whoever messin’ with me/I can bring you that Khaleesi heat/Use my King, knack for words as an actual sword/I can decapitate a rapper.”
Common’s contribution to the compilation includes a song with the lyrics: “I sit and think when I’m in my zone/This life is like a Game of Thrones.”
According to an HBO release, Common and Big Boi were already aficionados of Game of Thrones. “I’m really happy. I get to be part of the process of one of my favourite shows,” said Common.
The Jamaican-born Magazeen (real name: Reagan Bennett) also admits to regularly watching Thrones. “It’s a lot of sword-swinging, a lot of fighting, man,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s just raw!”
And while the mix tape, which is being released free for download by HBO, is intended for all fans of the show, the cable channel is making no secret of its plans to bring Thrones to a wider viewing demographic.
Although Game of Thrones ranks among HBO’s most-watched programs, with an estimated 14.3-million U.S. viewers per episode, the show is predominantly being watched by white America.
Throughout the course of Thrones’ third season, which aired last year, the Nielsen Ratings Company says the show’s viewing audience was on average 13.2-per-cent African-American and 9.2-per-cent Latino.
The white viewership of Thrones: 76.6 per cent.
Factor in that HBO’s U.S. subscriber base has been stuck at roughly 30-million viewers the past few years, and suddenly the melding of rap music and medieval drama starts making sense.
“I think it’s interesting that as HBO looks for growth, they may be looking at certain segments of the population that have been underserved in the past,” said Michael Morris, media analyst at Guggenheim Securities.
And more than a few people are already drawing parallels between the Game of Thrones mixtape and the music made in the early nineties by the seminal hip-hop collective known as Wu-Tang Clan, which routinely featured audio samples from Chinese martial-arts movies in their songs.
“Twenty years ago, Wu-Tang was breaking ground,” said Common. “Nowadays, people are open to anything. There are no limitations in hip-hop culture.”
Season four of Game of Thrones premieres April 6 on HBO and HBO Canada.