When Donna Burke listens to Eminem’s new song “Good Guy,” released August 31 on the rapper’s no-promo album Kamikaze, she admits she doesn’t listen to his abrasive, rapid-fire lyrics. “I can’t listen to it without hearing my own voice,” says Burke, the Tokyo-based veteran singer and voice actress. “I love that I’m on it. I can’t get past that.”
After a bit of confusion and controversy, online anime sleuths sussed out that Eminem’s track sampled Burke’s song “Glassy Sky” from the ridiculously popular anime series Tokyo Ghoul.
A Marshall Mathers Mystery
Eminem’s producer Illadaproducer, an anime and video game otaku, originally told Rolling Stone that “Good Guy” featured a sample from the video game Kingdom Hearts. Even though Burke’s voice had been pitched up, reversed and spliced, diehard fans recognized the track as “Glassy Sky.” There was enough online ire that Illadaproducer admitted he got confused during the interview and made a mistake, confirming the loop is indeed “Glassy Sky.”
Burke’s assistant Michael Bain did some investigating himself, contacting the agency that owns the song’s rights, who confirmed that Eminem’s people did contact them to gain proper licensing to sample “Glassy Sky.”
“I could tell it was me, but if someone said that it’s not me, I would believe them,” says Burke. “What’s really delightful is I didn’t have to work very hard to get this. What a wonderful gift that landed in my lap. Even my mother has heard of Eminem.”
The Death Ballad
“Glassy Sky,” produced by Yutaka Yamada, had built up a credibility in its own right, garnering more than 40 million views on YouTube. Recorded three years ago, the tune appears at the most critical moment of the Tokyo Ghoul series, when the main character’s best friend dies.
The tender, somber song is a strong contrast to Eminem’s angry, profanity-laced tirade against an ex. Burke remembers when she recorded the first take of “Glassy Sky” she used her big powerful voice and “let it rip” in the Tokyo studio.
“There was a lot of teeth sucking and everyone was real quiet,” says Burke. “I came out of the booth and said, ‘What’s wrong, just tell me.’ And they said they want me to sing like a dead person.”
Burke will perform “Glassy Sky” and a selection of her video game and anime hits on September 22 with her band Ganime Jazz at No Bird in Ginza. In October she will perform her songs from the video game Metal Gear in front of a symphony orchestra in Los Angeles, New York and Paris.
Active in the industry for more than two decades, Burke’s original songs have appeared on the video games Final Fantasy, GodEater and more. She is also the voice of the Tokaido Shinkansen and portrays the character Raising Heart on the animation series Lyrical Nanoha.
Listen to Eminem’s “Good Guy” sampling Donna Burke’s “Glassy Sky” on Spotify:
For more information, visit donnaburke.com