Pouring the Asphalt
A Street Fighter Named Desire
And that's where the real affinity between Street Fighter and hip-hop lies. Street Fighter isn't hip-hop's favorite video game series because of Capcom's marketing team or Hideki Okugawa's beats or John Singleton's product placement or Ryu's ambitions. Neither is it hip-hop's favorite game just because fighting parallels rap battling (if that were the case, Tekken, Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter, Guilty Gear, and Smash Bros. would come up just as often as Street Fighter). No, Street Fighter reigns supreme because repeatedly, through caprice, design, nostalgia, and ambition, its handlers have reached into the abyss—of memory, of possibility, of curiosity, of marketing—and always believed they could pull out something different.Street Fighter may have all the trappings of continuity—stable character rosters, unchanging command inputs, looping and recognizable music—but its key attribute is its capacity for contingency, its potential to create something unexpected and thrilling. Those thrills can be as cheap as winning against an experienced older sibling or as spectacular as pro-player Daigo parrying his way to a tournament win (or Daigo losing a match to Lupe Fiasco or two cosplayers getting married). Sometimes, they never come at all, but players don't mind that so much; since the beginning Street Fighter has insisted that success is just two quarters, one "Continue?" away. That's not much different from the allure of the rap game.Though Street Fighter II was built to devour quarters and hip-hop was built to escape the corniness of disco, what's propelled them past those early goals, together and separately, is an unwavering belief in the contingent. Most players won't become true warriors, most rappers won't become stars, Max won't ever dodge that punch, and most songs about Street Fighter are fucking terrible. But hey, you never know.
Street Fighter's key attribute is its capacity for contingency.