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5 of the best hip hop-themed video games of all time

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Hip-hop remains one of the most popular, supercharged musical genres in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. There are few better genres that capture the raw emotion of our respective cultures. Surprisingly, it has had very little airtime in video games compared with other popular genres like rock ‘n’ roll and dance music even though it features just as heavily in music news.

With that being said, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the best releases on console, PC and online that paint hip-hop in a positive light and have proven to be inspirations to some of South Africa’s biggest hip-hop artists like Die Antwoord.

1. Def Jam

Released on both the PlayStation 2 and 3, as well as the Xbox and Xbox 360, Def Jam is one of the most iconic hip-hop styled video games in history. This fighting game series gives you the chance to fight in one of five different styles – mixed martial arts, wrestling, submissions, kickboxing and street fighting. There are no fewer than 67 playable characters within the game, including many hip-hop artists signed up to Def Jam in years gone by. These include Bubba Sparxxx, Ice-T and Snoop Dogg himself.

2. Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style

The 1999 PlayStation 1 video game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style utilises a bespoke game engine from Paradox Development that was initially built for a game titled ‘Thrill Kill’ that was never released on the PS1. This single-player and multiplayer fighting game sees the Wu Tang Clan commit to track down Mong Zhu and recover Master Xin who has been captured by Zhu’s cronies.

3. Pimped

There are very few online slot games inspired by hip-hop music, but Play’n GO’s Pimped game is one that hits the spot. This simple five-reel, ten-payline slot game offers intuitive gameplay, backed by a hugely immersive hip-hop soundtrack as the reels keep spinning. The reels are pimped up with diamond-encrusted styling wraps and the surround of the reels is designed to make you feel like you’re in your very own hip-hop party on the top floor of an urban apartment. The game was developed by Play’n GO and can be found in online casinos in South Africa such as Energy Casino.

5. 50 Cent: Bulletproof

In 2005, Genuine Games developed a homage to 50 Cent. 50 Cent: Bulletproof was released on the PS2 and Xbox in November 2005 before getting a release on PSP the following year. It sold approximately 1.2 million copies worldwide, with 50 Cent fans getting the chance to take control of the main man in this action game. You head out in search of revenge against the hitmen that attempted to murder him – a real-life plotline.

6. Get On Da Mic

Fancy yourself as a budding hip-hop rapper? Eidos Interactive’s Get On Da Mic is the hip-hop competitor to Rock Band. Supplied with a microphone, you’ll get the chance to sing exclusively hip-hop tracks unlike other ‘karaoke’ style singing games. You’ll accrue points based on how well you sing and match the pitch. Although critical reviews of this were largely poor, it was still a hit with hip-hop fans worldwide.

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