Nintendo has gotten a lot of flack in the past few years for failing to credit contributors by name, and it seems like this trend continues into The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The DK rap is attributed to “Donkey Kong 64” rather than a human creator in the credits for the film, which was produced by Nintendo, Universal Pictures, and Illumination. And its composer isn’t happy about it.
The DK rap is the intro song to Donkey Kong 64, the first 3D DK game released in 1999. While the quality of the song is a little contentious, it does its job in introducing Donkey Kong and his friends (who are all playable in the game). Kirkhope said in an interview that he had composed the rap (which was co-written by George Andreas) as a joke, and it was extremely under-appreciated in its time.
“[People] were trying to compare me to credible rappers of the time who were superstars. I was like, ‘I’m just Grant Kirkhope, I’m nobody,’” he said. “I wasn’t trying to make a proper rap track, it was just supposed to be a bit of a joke.” It’s now been over two decades since the rap came out, and Kirkhope is in a very different place than he was back then. He’s been nominated for and won several music awards, and has many fans who think highly of his work. Elsewhere, the song definitely doesn’t get a lot of respect. Even Seth Rogen (who voices Donkey Kong in the movie) called it “one of the worst rap songs of all time.”
“I was really looking forward to [seeing] my name in the credits for the DK Rap, but alas as expected it’s not there,” wrote Grant Kirkhope, the original composer. “FML.” Kotaku asked Kirkhope why he expected not to be credited for the rap, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Whether the DK Rap is artistically accomplished or not isn’t important. Artists should always be credited properly whenever their art is reused in some way, especially since the original Mario composer Koji Kondo is named in the credits. Kirkhope didn’t even mind that people thought the rap was bad. He was just looking forward to seeing his name where it belonged: in the movie credits.
“If you’d told me in ‘97, when I wrote the worst rap track in the history of rap tracks, that it would go on to be in a Mario Bros movie I would’ve burst with excitement!” he tweeted a week before the movie came out. “Long live the DK Rap!”