in Music, Video Games

Meet The DJs of “Grand Theft Auto V”

Grand Theft Auto V has finally arrived after years of anticipation and, man, was it ever worth the wait! All talk about the game being the next evolution in sandbox/action gaming wasn’t just hyperbole as anyone who’s played the game (but hopefully taking a break to read this story!) can attest to.

Out of the game’s many innovations, its music soundtrack via the various in-game radio stations has always been my favorite element. Since Grand Theft Auto 3, Rockstar Games has crammed a number of songs from artists past and present specific to each game’s setting. GTAV is no different but it does improve on the formula in a number of ways.

GTAV is the first game in the series to feature songs written specifically for the game by contemporary artists (18 total). It is also the first game in the series to feature real-life artists host the game’s radio shows as themselves (with few exceptions). Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas included artists such as Chuck D, George Clinton and Axl Rose who voiced characters within the game.

Did we mention that each DJ personally curated each station? Because they did!

Here are, in no particular order, the DJs you’ll be listening to on GTAV.

DJ Pooh – West Coast Classics

Photo: Ricky Powell

Most people will recognize DJ Pooh (Mark Jordan) as the character Red from Friday who famously gets knocked out by Deebo. What most people don’t know is that Pooh also co-wrote the film’s story with longtime collaborator rapper/actor Ice Cube. His work in the music industry includes various production credits with Cube, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, LL Cool J, Tupac Shakur, and others.

Naturally, Pooh is the host of 80s/90s hip-hop station West Coast Classics. GTAV marks his return to the series following his work in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas where he is credited as a writer and co-producer.

Big Boy – Radio Los Santos

gta

Big Boy (Kurt Alexander) is the famous voice and mind behind Power 106 FM’s popular morning show. The DJ/host has been with the station since the 1990s where he’s interviewed an extensive list of Who’s-Who in the hip-hop music industry. His stage name derives from his former 500-pound frame, of which he lost nearly 300 pounds following surgery in 2003.

Big Boy continues his real-life work in GTAV as the host of contemporary hip-hop music station, Radio Los Santos. GTAV also marks his second appearance in the GTA series. He voiced Big Bear in GTA: SA.

Kenny Loggins – Los Santos Rock Radio

Kenny Loggins got his start as one-half of the Loggins and Messina duo with Jim Messina. The “accidental” duo was popular in the 1970s and released seven hit albums before splitting in 1976.  Loggins has had a more successful career as a solo artist (which is why he’s the one in GTAV and not the other way around) with thirteen albums to his name.

Loggins is also known as the King Of Movie Soundtracks. The musician composed and performed songs for movie soundtracks throughout the 80s many of which became immediately iconic. What would Top Gun be without “Danger Zone?” You can thank Kenny Loggins (and Giorgio Moroder/Tom Whitlock) for that!

Cara Delevingne – Non-Stop Pop FM

Photo: Mateusz Stankiewicz

Photo: Mateusz Stankiewicz

Cara Delevingne is one of the exceptions I mentioned earlier. Ms. Delevingne is a model who has appeared in campaigns for H&M, Zara, Chanel and others and is the current face of Burberry’s Beauty campaign. She’s also walked a number of catwalks sporting clothes from Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi and others.

Delevingne has recently branched out with small acting roles here and there. She’ll be introducing pop hits from Britney Spears, Rihanna, and Robyn as part of her gig as a digital DJ.

Mama G (Pam Grier) – Lowdown FM

Pam Grier is the other exception. Grier plays host Mama G on Soul/Disco music station Lowdown FM. Grier made her mark in the film industry during the 1970s via a number of roles but it was her lead role in 1974’s Foxy Brown that turned heads. Her career went into a slight decline in the 80s and 90s until it received a jolt in 1997 with the release of Jackie Brown by director Quentin Tarantino. She was also popular as character Kate “Kit” Porter in The L Word.

Jesco White – Rebel Radio

Photo: Storm Taylor

Photo: Storm Taylor

Jesco White is The Dancing Outlaw from West Virginia who became famous overnight after the release of documentaries The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia and The Dancing Outlaw and is the final exception on this list.

White followed in his father’s footsteps, the late Donald Ray White, and became an Appalachian mountain dancer. His taps have been recorded for use in many country music albums and though he may not be on the same level as anyone with the surname Williams, his status earned him a spot as Rebel Radio’s DJ.

Soulwax – Soulwax FM

Soulwax is the brainchild of brothers David and Stephen Dewaele of Belgium who are the talking heads on their eponymous radio station. When not rocking out electro/alt. rock tunes with Soulwax, the brothers are burning up dance floors as the DJ duo 2ManyDJs. As the latter, the brothers are famous for mind-bending DJ sets whose mash-ups put Girl Talk to shame. Grab a copy of their mix album As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 and freak out as they get you dancing to Iggy Pop, The Cramps, Destiny’s Child and Dolly Parton in the same hour.

Bootsy Collins – Space 103.2 FM

William Earl Collins’s name is synonymous with funk music just as much as James Brown and George Clinton’s. His career as the bassist for The Pacemakers took off when James Brown hired the band is his personal backing band in 1970. The gig lasted only a year and Collins formed the group House Guest before joining George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic as a bassist. He borrowed a page from Clinton by creating a large number of musical personas each one funkier and weirder than its predecessor.

Nate Williams & Stephen Pope (of Wavves) – Vinewood Boulevard Radio

Photo: Lauren Dukoff

Photo: Lauren Dukoff

Nate Williams and Stephen Pope are one half of the surf-rock quartet known as Wavves. The band from San Diego was born in 2008 by Williams some time after he dropped out of college and spent his days getting high. Pope and Billy Hays, formerly of The Reatards, joined the band later on with Hayes later replaced by Jacob Cooper (formerly of the equally amazing The Mae Shi).

The surf rock/indie group almost burned out early in 2009 when Williams suffered a public meltdown during a live set at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. He admitted to being hooked on alcohol and drugs, went to rehab (unlike you-know-who) and all has been well ever since.

Wavves also wrote/recorded the song “Nine Is God” specifically for the game.

Keith Morris – Channel X

Keith Morris has been punk since the day he burst out of his mother’s womb. Born and raised in Hermosa Beach, CA, he co-founded the legendary punk group Black Flag with guitarist Greg Ginn in 1976. He left the group three years later and founded yet another legendary punk group: The Circle Jerks.

Morris currently sings/screams for FLAG, a revival of sorts of Black Flag. Ginn owns the copyright to the name Black Flag and refuses to let anyone use it. That’s not punk at all.

Lee “Scratch” Perry – Blue Ark FM

The man born Rainford Hugh Perry would grow up to be as important a figure in the world of Reggae music as Bob Marley if not more so. Perry recorded one of the world’s first (if not the first) reggae songs with “People Funny Boy.” He built a recording studio in his backyard in 1973 known as The Black Ark. It was in that studio that he created the musical subgenre of Dub Reggae, which grew in influence thanks to Perry’s work as well as the work of Errol Thompson and Osbourne “King Rubby Ruddock.

The Beastie Boys played a part in reviving his career when they enlisted Perry as a vocalist on “Dr. Lee, PhD” and Instrumental Rock group Zechs Marquise paid homage to Perry with their song “Black Ark Dub.”

Flying Lotus – FlyLo FM

Photo: Kenza

Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) is the newest kid on the experimental beats block. The musician from Los Angeles (or Los Santos if you prefer) has four albums of experimental/progressive beats and electronic music notched on his belt and can be considered as part of L.A.’s beat scene, which includes guys like The Gaslamp Killer and DJ Nobody.

FlyLo used this opportunity as in-game DJ to release a number of new songs with half his station’s music composed of new songs specifically for the game including a new track from rapper Tyler The Creator.

Gilles Peterson – Worldwide FM

Gilles Peterson is one of the most important radio personalities in England. Born Gilles Jerome Moehrle, Peterson is a certified “global tastemaker” alongside BBC Radio peers Pete Tong, Steve Lamacq, and the late John Peel.

He’s also founded a number of record labels that have been home to a variety of successful artists such as Erykah Badu and Jamiroquai. He also owns a home that he has since moved out of since he filled it up every nook and cranny with vinyl records. Perhaps it’s time for an intervention.

Twin Shadow – Radio Mirror Park

Twin Shadow is one creative guy. The Dominican-born, Bushwick-raised artist effortlessly mixes R&B vocals, with synthpop and chillwave sounds which can be heard on both his albums, Forget and its sequel Confess. Shadow, a.k.a. George Lewis Jr., has established himself as the bad boy of pop a la Prince with a penchant for breaking hearts.

Don Cheto & Camilo Lara – East Los FM

Photo: Ruben Marquez

Photo: Ruben Marquez

Confession: This is easily my favorite station in the game. A game based on the city of Los Angeles can’t not have Spanish-language music in it and Rockstar delivered by hiring Don Cheto and Camilo Lara to curate a station filled with old-school and modern Spanish-language tracks from all over the globe.

Don Cheto is the creation of Juan Carlos Razo who, in his trademark gray bushy eyebrows and mustache, rules the Spanish-language morning radio circuit. The L.A. Times describes Razo’s character as “a hard-headed but sentimental Mexican hillbilly” whose morning skits are truthful, sometimes poignant but always hilarious takes on the challenges immigrants face when living in a new country. Razo/Cheto was most likely asked to select classic artists such as Los Angeles Negros, Los Buitres De Culiacan Sinaloa and Los Tigres Del Norte.

Camilo Lara, on the other hand, is the hip young musician tasked with selecting artists such as La Vida Boheme, Milkman, La Liga, and Alika. Lara is also the founder and lead composer/singer of rock/dance group Mexican Institute Of Sound (or in Spanish, El Instituto Mexicano del Sonido).

Written by: Afroxander