The Grand Theft Auto gaming franchise is one of the most lucrative entertainment brands in history, a multi-million dollar juggernaut whose highly anticipated upcoming fifth installment -- and the first since 2008 -- will arrive on Sept. 17.
Landing a track on the game’s soundtrack is one of the most coveted licenses in the industry, as it feeds music into the receptive ears of obsessive gamers looking for new music and eager to share -- and delivers hard earned cash and exposure to talented artists.
Rockstar, which produces the game, has kept close guard on the music in volume five, which takes place in and around Los Santos, but it stands to feature a ton of fascinating music, both in the form of radio stations with a hand-selected roster of artist-programmers, and, for the first time, commissioned composers creating scores for specific missions.
Soundtracks have been an essential part of Grand Theft Auto, and for the fifth volume the producers cover vast swaths of the modern L.A. scene. Flying Lotus wll be bringing exclusives to his Flylo FM; Wavves and Twin Shadow have landed stations, and DJ Pooh’s selected classic west coast hip-hop jams.
Grand Theft Auto V will feature new tracks by a notably Los Angeles-centric group of artists including Health (who scored Rockstar’s “Max Payne” game), Off!, Tyler the Creator, Hanni al Khatib and Freddie Gibbs, as well as Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, New York rapper A$AP Rocky, bedroom dance-soul artist Twin Shadow and Brooklyn indie rock band Yeasayer.
As well, producers have commissioned scores for some missions.
“We thought we could do something interesting if we scored missions in GTA,” series producer and writer Dan Houser told the Guardian in the spring, though at that point they’d yet to determine a balance between original music and radio stations. “Obviously we didn’t want to lose radio stations, so we thought we’d do both,” he said.
Houser teased the composers selected to score scenes, too, saying that “we have some very cool people doing the score, different people, who will work in the same stem-based system that we used in the other games.”
Names of these composers have yet to be officially released, although earlier this year hip hop producer Alchemist tweeted that he was composing music for the project, and message boards have been actively discussing the vanguard electronic group Tangerine Dream as potential collaborators (they were featured in Grand Theft Auto IV).
Going to be cruising through virtual Los Santos this fall? Here’s a rundown of a few of the most interesting stations.
Vinewood Boulevard Radio, hosted by Wavves, will feature new Wavves music, as well as tracks by Bass Drum of Death, FIDLAR, Hot Snakes, METZ, Moon Duo, Thee Oh Sees and more. (Word is Wavves’ Nathan Williams will be mixing music and comedy.)
Punk singer Keith Morris of Off!, who’s currently touring as part of Flag, will program Channel X, and will highlight a Los Angeles who’s-who of first-wave punk: Adolescents, Black Flag, Weirdos, Circle Jerks, Descendents, Germs, Youth Brigade, T.S.O.L. and others.
Belgian production team Soulwax has compiled an excellent dance mix:
Mim Suleiman - “Mingi”
FKCLUB - “The Strange Art (ID Remix)”
Matias Aguayo - “El Sucu Tucu”
Joe Goddard feat. Valentina - “Gabriel (Soulwax Remix)”
Daniel Maloso - “Body Music”
Green Velvet & Harvard Bass - “Lazer Beams”
Zombie Nation - Tryouts Goose - Synrise (Soulwax Remix)
Tiga - Plush (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)
Pulp - After You (Soulwax Remix)
The Hacker - Shockwave (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Transistorcake - “Mr. Croissant Taker”
Goose - “Synrise (Soulwax remix)”
Jackson and his Computer Band - “Arp #1"
Tom Rowlands - “Nothing But Pleasure”
Joe Goddard - “Gabriel”
FK Club - “The Strange Art”
Supersempfft - “Let’s Beam Him Up”
Fatal Error - “Fatal Error”
Palmbomen - “Stock (Soulwax remix)”
East Los FM will feature Mexican and Angeleno narcocorridos as chosen by Mexican Institute of Sound and Don Cheto, and include music by those two acts, as well as Los Tigres del Norte, Nina Dioz, Jessy Bulbo and others.
You can’t cruise Los Angeles without hip hop, and DJ Pooh has selected some of the best of the first wave of west coast gangsta rap, including work by Dr. Dre, MC Eiht (“Streiht Up Menace”), Too Short, N.W.A, Mack 10, DJ Quik, Snoop Dogg, King Tee and more.
Other stations will be programmed by Kenny Loggins, Big Boy (the radio DJ, not the Outkast’s Big Boi), pop DJ Cara Delevingne, Jesco White (“Rebel Radio”), Soulwax, Gilles Petterson, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Pam Grier, Twin Shadow and Bootsy Collins.
We’ll close with the full track list for Flying Lotus’ FlyLo FM.
1. Flying Lotus feat. Niki Randa - “Getting There”
2. Clams Casino - “Crystals”
3. Flying Lotus - “Crosswerved”
4. Flying Lotus - “Be Spin”
5. Flying Lotus - “See Thru To U”
6. Flying Lotus - “The Diddler”
7. Flying Lotus - “Computer Face Rmx”
8. Hudson Mohawk - “100hm”
9. Flying Lotus feat. Niki Randa - “The Kill”
10. Tyler, the Creator - “Garbage”
11. Outkast - “Elevators (Me & You)”
12. Captain Murphy - “Evil Grin”
13. Flying Lotus - “Catapult Man”
14. Dabrye - “Encoded Flow”
15. Mashine Drum - She Died There”
16. DJ Rashad - “F- T-why”
17. Thundercat - “Oh Sheit It’s X”
18. Flying Lotus - “Stonecutters”
19. Shadow Child - “23"
20. Kingdom - “Stalker Ha”
21. Aphex Twin - “Windowlicker”
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit