Kamasi Washington on Igor Stravinsky, Art Blakey, and a Certain Vintage Arcade Game

Oct 4, 2018

Kamasi Washington’s Heaven and Earth Tour reached New York City on Tuesday, with a stop at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center opening for Florence and the Machine. Over the summer we spoke with the Herculean saxophonist about some of his most important early music influences — from Art Blakey to Busta Rhymes to Stravinksy — during an onstage conversation at Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, Belgium.


In addition to sharing his favorite pieces by those artists, Washington also sheds light on an extra-musical preoccupation: video games. The vintage arcade game Street Fighter 2, in particular, has occupied his imagination a lot over the years — so much so that he actually composed a theme song for himself as the arcade player, preparing to go into battle and annihilate the competition.

Here’s a video for that song, “Street Fighter Mas,” which appears on Heaven and Earth.

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