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Published:April 3rd, 2014 12:25 EST
Top Ten Hip-Hop Video Games

Top Ten Hip-Hop Video Games

By Derek Sanders

Video games and hip-hop music began to rise to popularity in the 1980s and as they did, they have expanded to create large subcultures surrounding them. Sometimes, these two mediums overlap, with artists in one field taking inspiration from the other, to produce works that give the audience a fusion of both cultures. While several games have been subpar efforts by developers, often times being tie-ins to specific artists that are more concerned with the license than the gameplay, there are other games that utilize hip-hop culture to great success.

10. PaRappa the Rapper (PlayStation - 1996) - The rhythm game PaRappa the Rapper may have a cartoonish style and characters, but the setting does have clear hip-hop influences. It follows the main character PaRappa, a rapping dog in street clothes who like music and skateboarding, as he moves through the story using his rapping talents to help him through problems. The gameplay involves timed button presses in tune to the beat of the music; the better the timing, the smoother PaRappa`s rapping goes and the more positive the story looks.

9. Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style (PlayStation - 1999) - Based on the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style is a 4-player 3D fighting game. Running on the game engine for the cancelled PlayStation game Thrill Kill, the characters include stylized versions of the group`s members, influenced by the Eastern martial arts themes in their music and the matches end in fatalities in the style of Mortal Kombat. The story mode of the game, told through full motion video cutscenes, shows the Wu-Tang Clan trying to rescue the kidnapped Master Xin, the last practitioner of the ancient kung-fu style of Wu-Tang.

8. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 - 2009) - Following the release of the critically-panned 50 Cent: Bulletproof, Blood on the Sand is a single-player third-person shooter starring rapper 50 Cent and the members of his rap group G-Unit. In the game`s story, they arm themselves and chase after a terrorist group through an unnamed Middle Eastern country after they steal the group`s payment for a rap concert, in the form of a diamond and pearl encrusted human skull. The game has an online co-op mode, the gameplay flaws from Bulletproof have been fixed and improved upon, and the soundtrack has over 40 different songs, 18 of which were recorded by 50 Cent just for this game.

7. The World Ends With You (Nintendo DS - 2007) - The World Ends With You is based in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, Japan as a bunch of teenagers explore the area, fighting monsters and completing tasks as part of a week-long event called the Reaper`s Game and to aid them in this event, each of the characters are given pins that give them special powers to help fight off the monsters. While this game focuses more on youth culture as a whole and features various supernatural elements, hip-hop does play a significant part in the atmosphere of this game from the soundtrack to the urban environment to some of the character`s clothing styles and its fast-paced gameplay and elaborate story will keep players engaged.

6. Def Jam Vendetta (PlayStation 2, GameCube - 2003) - Def Jam Vendetta is a professional wrestling game featuring several different rappers as fighters including DMX, Method Man, Redman, Ludacris, and more. The game includes both a competitive multiplayer and a single-player story mode where the player fights up the ranks to become the best street fighter in the city. The soundtrack features songs from various artists, including artists featured in the game, and is the first in the Def Jam series of fighting games.

5. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PlayStation 2, 2004) - One of the most controversial video games in history for its depictions of violence and sexual content, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an open-world adventure game, giving the players a wide-open area to explore and interact with however they want. The game is set in the year 1992 in the pseudo-California state of San Andreas and focuses around urban events rising to the public attention in the period like the Bloods vs. Crips gang wars, the rise in drug dealing, and gangsta rap. Players control CJ, a former gang member who comes back to San Andreas after finding about his mother`s murder and works to uncover the truth about the case while trying to get his old gang back together.

4. Def Jam Rapstar (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii - 2010) - The first music game from Def Jam Recordings, Rapstar is essentially a rap-themed karaoke game. The game uses radio edited version of all the tracks to secure a T for Teen rating, so no explicit lyrics are heard in the game. The tracklist features songs from various rap artists past and present with some songs unlockable, downloadable, limited to certain modes, or locked to certain regions.

3. The Hip Hop Dance Experience (Wii, Xbox 360 - 2012) - From the same studio behind the popular Just Dance games, The Hip Hop Dance Experience is a motion control dance game focusing on hip-hop dancing with a tracklist of rap and R&B music. Using either the Kinect camera or the Wii Remote, players match the moves on screen to increase their score, with more points awarded for accuracy. The dance moves are choreographed by hip-hop choreographers Laurieann Gibson, Dave Scott, and Kid David and the soundtrack features songs from old school acts like The Sugarhill Gang and Run-DMC, modern rappers like Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj, and superstars like Snoop Dogg and Outkast.

2. DJ Hero (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 - 2009) - A spin-off of the Guitar Hero series (no pun intended), DJ Hero is a rhythm game utilizing a turntable deck controller for gameplay. Using the movable turntable, crossfader, and effects dial, players hit the notes on the screen to stay in tune with the music, in a method similar to the notes in Guitar Hero. The soundtrack features mixes and mash-ups of several different songs from hip-hop, rock, dance, and pop music including Jay-Z vs. Eminem, Billy Squier vs. Jurassic 5, and Bobby Blue " Bland vs. Tupac and some of the tracks are remixed by famous DJs including DJ AM, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff, David Guetta, and Daft Punk.

1. Jet Set Radio (Dreamcast - 2000) - One of the most well-received games for the Sega Dreamcast, Jet Set Radio follows a gang of rollerblading teenagers as they spray graffiti art all across the city of Tokyo. The game features several different elements from hip-hop culture from graffiti to dancing  to the radio DJ narrating the events of the game. The casting of corrupt police and businessmen as enemies against the cast of skating teens in the game showcases the roots of hip-hop as a rebellious street culture and the colorful urban environment shows the lighthearted and playful side of the culture. The music in the game has several hip-hop or hip-hop-inspired tracks which set the mood for the entire game.