Charlotte Area & East Coast Nerdcore Pays Tribute to a JRPG Giant: Omega Sparx/SWATS’s “Buster Sword Cypher” – Single Review

It’s hard to believe that at this moment, 22 years have passed since the release of the one game that brought Squaresoft, now Square Enix, to the front of the conversation in the new era of 3D graphics on what was then a revolution in presentation, gameplay, and storytelling over in North America; the game was Final Fantasy 7, the date was September 7th, 1997. No matter where many gamers stand on which entry in that franchise rises above the rest, It’s hard to dispute that the graphic transition from the previous 2D top-down look of the Super Nintendo to an entire world that popped out at players via the then-powerhouse Playstation console caught the attention of many, and never let go. 22 years later, we’ve been graced with a complete upheaval of that same world, remastered and remixed, reigniting those memories of Midgar along with all the imagination it spurred with the iconic cast. So, how do we celebrate this nostalgic moment? In the Charlotte Music Scene, our nerdcore hip-hop artists knew just what to do, and thus Omega Sparx, SWATS, Cutright, and NemRaps went on a journey to bring together the best of the East Coast and beyond for a Cypher dedicated to one of the most cherished JRPG’s of all time.

Left to Right: Omega Sparx (Cloud), Mega Ran (Sephiroth), Prowess The Testament (Tifa), Cutright (Barrett), None Like Joshua (Vincent)

What’s cool about this particular track is the formation behind it. The big idea; each musician takes a character and becomes them in a short stanza, ripped quickly with a solid hook before moving onto a completely different sound and vibe tailored to that specific artist. Without making a complete show of it, the spotlighting of each artist in those bite-sized moments really allows everyone to shine, because listening to Cutright click into that gruff nature that envelopes Barrett’s demeanor touches nothing on Prowess’s slowdown to lay her tracks heavy as Tifa, and these artists had to make it work in following one another. It’s hard to say if this collaboration would have worked otherwise outside of the way it was arranged, mixed by another friend & heavy-hitter of the collective nerdcore scene, Redgie “SoSmuv” Gudger.

Left to Right: Frivolous Shara (Aerith), NemRaps (Red XIII), Gr3ys0n (Cid Highwind), Ninethie (Cait Sith), DA-Wolf (Yuffie), SWATS (Zack)

The love behind each pick is wonderfully presented, capturing the varied cast in their essence. It’s hard to explain how each character is outside of the gaming community if you haven’t picked up a version of the title itself, past or present, but that doesn’t make the cypher less accessible to those who are casual gamers. If anything, the work each artist put into embracing each role is unique, like the example of Cutright’s hard-edge take at Barrett, Omega Sparx’s determined Cloud Strife, the slick optimistim of FrivolousShara’s Aerith, Swats’s careful take on a cafefree Zack, or even the UK’s Ninethie driving hard as the cryptic yet eccentric Cait Sith. Each bridged movement not only reaches out to show those on the outside a little about the game, but also shows the fun elements in making it in general.

Buster Sword Cypher – Official Music Video

If you haven’t had a chance yet, give this track a turn. In presenting the game in this format, listeners also have a chance to discover new artists that they might had previously overlooked, even in their own communities. This crew’s turn at making this tribute to a game that more than likely helped pivot them into the musical genre they all share is felt on the surface for sure, but really shines for anyone that have similar memories to share, from the long revered days of the original Playstation into present day.

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