The gaming industry is the success story of the last decade. Having been at one time considered a children’s toy, video games have now become the behemoth of entertainment that they are today, outgrowing the performance of the music and movie industries combined – only the fashion industry is equipped to give gaming a run for its money.
According to recent research, the global video game market was valued at approximately $350 billion in 2023 and is expected to reach $500 billion by 2027. This growth can be attributed to factors such as the increasing popularity of mobile gaming and esports, and the availability of new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.
Music and gaming, however, go hand in hand. Many successful video games franchises accredit some of their success to their soundtracks and licensed musical accompaniments.
Wu-Tang was, as ever, ahead of the curve, foreseeing the success of video games and became one of the first hip hop acts to release their own game in 1999 for the original playstation: Wu- Tang: Shaolin Style. Since then, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kanye, 50-Cent and many more have added their name to the list of rappers who have become playable characters in video games.
Of course your choice of gaming genre has a big impact on what tracks are going to pair best with it. We take a look at some of the finest hip hop beats to add to your gaming playlist today.
“Respiration” by Black Star ft. Common
A classic to kick us off and what better combination than Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Common laying down impeccable bars atop one of the smoothest Hi-Tek beats in existence? Released in 1998 on their self-titled album, Hi-Tek deftly uses a sample from jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon to showcase the lyrical prowess and dynamic chemistry of the three MCs.
Obviously you’re not turning to your favorite run ‘n gun title with Black Star flowing through your headphones, instead channel your favorite five star casino resort and play slots at one of the most trusted gaming operators going, Virgin Games. Scan through page after page of high quality traditional and modern games and find your perfect match while you kick back and keep your cool to the sounds of Black Star.
“GOATED” by Armani White ft. Denzel Curry
Armani White blew up on TikTok in September of last year with his infinitely loopable, bass boosted, chopped up version of Noreaga’s track “Nothin”, produced by the Neptunes – as everything in 2002 seemed to be. The Philadelphia native returns alongside Florida’s own Denzel Curry on “GOATED”, a beat seemingly designed to further test the limits of your subwoofer.
Drawn out 808s provide strong foundations for skeletal hi hats and crispy claps to dance atop. The track has antipodal personalities – the grizzly verses juxtaposed against a catchy chorus and the two MCs bring out the best in each other for sure.
With a title like “GOATED”, you’ve got to be dominating your favorite first-person or third-person shooter while this one’s playing. Call of Duty Warzone, Apex Legends or winning a round of PUBG as the game declares, “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!” seem like adequate fits.
“Just Wanna Rock” by Lil Uzi Vert
Written with MCVertt and Synthetic, Lil Uzi Vert previously teased “Just Wanna Rock” on TikTok and the video gained over 500 million views. Jersey club is having its moment right now and this upbeat but stripped back track boils the formula down to its barest bones.
There’s no room for subtlety with a track like this and the perfect game to fire up at the same time is 2022’s action beat em up Sifu, from Sloclap. Exquisite animation and frenetic combat make Sifu an edge of your seat game with little margin for error – and the neon lights of downtown Tokyo complement the glassy wavetable synths of “Just Wanna Rock” perfectly.
“Tomorrow 2” by GloRilla and Cardi B
Cousins Cardi B and GloRilla team up on a reimagining of Glo’s track from the compilation album Gangsta Art released by her label CMG. In “Tomorrow 2”, the Memphis rapper backs up the success of her hit from the summer 2022, “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)”. Cardi B shines on this one and devours her verse, proving why she’s still at the top of her game and supporting other female talent in the industry at the same time.
After years of rumors, the Resident Evil 4 remake is set for release in Q2 of 2023 and the spooky dry piano line of “Tomorrow 2” sets the scene nicely. The seminal 2005 original revolutionized the survival horror and third-person hybrid genre and we can’t wait to get our hands on the modernized version.
“m y . l i f e” by J. Cole ft. 21 Savage and Morray
J. Cole has always had a deep respect for the roots of hip hop which he pays homage to in “m y . l i f e” featuring the hook of 2002’s “The Life” by Styles P. This is the second time Cole and Savage have got together on a record and their lyrics on this track talk of how hardship has made them into the men they are today.
Taken from his 2021 album The Off Season, it’s time to fire up your favorite sports simulator while listening to this. Madden NFL 23, NBA 2K23, FIFA 23 or even UFC 4, whatever your flavor, it’s time to see if your off season training has paid off and you’ve got what it takes to win the league.
A staggering number of us are gamers as well as music heads these days and nothing beats combining those two passions in a music and video game marathon.