Kamasi Washington creates his own version of a boxer’s entrance song on “Street Fighter Mas,” a new track inspired by the saxophonist’s childhood experiences at the arcade. The song will appear on Washington’s upcoming sophomore album, Heaven and Earth.
“Street Fighter Mas” would fit easily on a Seventies movie score. The core of the song is a funk loop – a sludgy bass vamp and a fluttery pulse on the drums. Horns articulate variations on an easily hummable melody atop of this foundation. Sometimes a choir adds wordless swells of sound.
Washington released a detailed statement about the experience that moved him to write “Street Fighter Mas.” “When I was younger … we used to go to this place called Rexall to play Street Fighter,” he explained. “At Rexall, there would be different people from different hoods there playing the game. It was the one place that was like an equalizer. It was just about how good you were at Street Fighter … for the most part. In other places, you were afraid of these dudes; there, you would just play the game and it was what it was, you know? I was really good at Street Fighter, so where the song really came from was me jokingly saying I was going to have my own theme song … like a boxer.”
“At an older age,” Washington continued, “I thought how amazing would it be if [the older guys that we looked up to] could just play the game and solve their problems that way.”
Heaven and Earth is due out June 22nd. Washington will tour throughout the summer and fall in support of the record.