How Baker Boy turned a boarding school pastime into a videogame dream
The soundtrack to the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series became as important as the skaters included. The current re-release/remake has Aussies -- we spoke to one of them about their inclusion!
One of the most common questions raised among the masses when Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 was revealed was: “is the soundtrack going to be the same?”.
It’s a serious question. I was strictly a punk rock kid when the game came out. Bad Religion being involved sold it to me over other issues I’d had with the game and skateboarding culture at the time. But given this is now (hopefully) Vicarious Visions’ baby and we’re going retro-cool, but with a 4K sheen, delving deep into the history of this iconic series, that question of soundtrack rears its own retro head. I mean, who was the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series ever made for, anyway?
The reason that original soundtrack is as iconic and remembered as it is, is because it covered most genres, but being a videogame that transcended skater-specific audiences, it opened up that multi-genre list to people who might have never heard Dead Kennedys, Primus or Goldfinger. Or who maybe only loved Bad Religion at the time. (I still do, by the way.)
Moreover, Aussie representation simply wasn’t a thing, now alongside Baker Boy’s “In Control” inclusion, the game also features solo punk rocker, Alex Lahey, and her amazing track, “Misery Guts”...
“I love gaming. Growing up in a community there was maybe one or two PlayStations and lots of kids,” enthuses Australia’s newest hip-hop sensation, Baker Boy, when we ask about his affiliation with the game and series ahead of being included in the expanded soundtrack for THPS 1+2. “You always had to wait your turn and there wasn’t always power. I would think when I became an adult I would have my own PlayStation, so now that I have one, I feel like I have really made it, haha.”
This December, Baker Boy will bring his powerful performance skills to Red Bull Music Motel, a very special live music getaway. From the comfort of your home, Red Bull Music Motel will give you a front-row seat to performances from Baker Boy as well as Tkay Maidza and G Flip. It all streams live from 6pm on Saturday December 5, hosted by Linda Marigliano and The Inspired Unemployed.
Hip-hop has been synonymous with skateboarding as much as punk rock, but those original releases were lite-on as far as the former genre is concerned. Moreover, Aussie representation simply wasn’t a thing, now alongside Baker Boy’s “In Control” inclusion, the game also features solo punk rocker, Alex Lahey, and her amazing track, “Misery Guts”. Also an Aussie. As well as other ANZ artists, A. Swayze & the Ghosts, CHAI, and DZ Deathrays. But it’s the connection to the game that imports Baker Boy’s personal inclusion in the game.
“I used to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in boarding school; it was always, like, the thing to do in our dorm,” he tells us. “It was the classic ‘winner stays on’ situation. There was always the longest wait before you got another turn, so the stakes were HIGH! I was pretty good, but some of the guys in my dorm were insane! The winner also got to pick the location, so if they picked one you weren't good at, or knew their way around, you had no chance.”
His infectious love for the game and being featured in it gives you a sense of the type of person he is. In fact, his handle (or “stage name” for the oldies out there) is a massive shout to his Old Man and Uncle -- family being super-important, but also part of what helped him become the sensation he is today.
“My Dad and Uncle were the original “Baker Boys” -- they travelled around Arnhem Land putting on dance shows and performing,” he explains. “They used the money they made to go to the next community to perform. Me and my brothers and cousins have always been known as the “Little Baker Boys” so it was just really organic and the obvious choice.
“Yeah [and] being positive is just who I am; ask anyone who knows me well,” Baker responds when we ask about him being known as “the happy rapper”. “I’m pretty much just always looking at the good side of things. If you choose to see things positively, then even the bad things don’t seem so bad. It’s just looking for silver linings, I guess. Some people mistake that for my music not being serious or touching harder hitting subjects, but it’s just that I choose to take control and redirect my problems in a more positive way, and that positive message is what I want to send.”
“Take control and redirect my problems in a positive way”. Again the song in question is “In Control”, which elevates his inclusion in the soundtrack even more.
Grind a bit, be on the right lane
Having positive mind frame
Ngupan nhe'li dream'gu,
Ngayi'li marrtji yuwalk'dhirra,
Yaka nhe dhu thinking yanbi nyal or lame
It's not about fame
I mean, that’s as humble and personal as it gets. There’s no denying his rise to stardom, but that Baker Boy remains truthful to his heritage while sharing nothing but positivity speaks volumes of the artist. In his other big hit “Meditjin”, he even tells you if you’re musically challenged or have “two left feet” he’s got you. The dude is simply positivity walking; dancing; singing; inspiring.
“I love playing games,” Baker affirms. “For me it’s kind of an escape and my down time. I love playing games where I get to chat to all of my cousins and brothers and check in with back home. We never pick up the phone and call each other but we can play games together for hours and just chat."
There’s a certain irony to the message from his track, “In Control” being in a videogame -- one about trying to always be in control of all of your actions. But it simply makes it more poignant. Comparisons to other artists though, is moot. This person has made a mark for his people and culture, alongside Australia on the whole, in a place least expected. But if we’re going by anything, it’s that history repeats and THPS 1+2 is proving that right now, while writing it’s own course, despite being a ‘so-called’ re-release, or remake.
“I had big dreams as a kid,” Baker Boy concludes. “But most kids do and I never expected that I would get this far, but I always knew that I’d be a performer in one way or another. For me it’s not really about being ‘big’ or ‘successful’ it’s just about sharing my story and culture.”
We reckon being included in one of the most iconic series of all-time as part of its equally iconic soundtrack is beyond vanilla recognition. It’s now history. And for Baker Boy, well, he’s “In Control”.