Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and its music – Part. 2

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and its music – Part. 2

The radio stations in San Andreas

One of the beauties of GTA San Andreas besides its gameplay, its scenario and the multiple adventures offered is the music. Yes, in the middle of our gang adventures, we all remember driving our low-rider dressed in a baggy and a bandana listening to Nuthin But A G Thang on Radio Los Santos. With its 11 radio stations by theme, we could have fun with different atmospheres, nothing better than the country radio K-Rose when we are in a tractor in the mountains of Las Ventura or a G-Funk for the battles of low-riders. Each radio offers its own possibilities and the selection is breathtaking, from hits to small underground sounds. 

List of radio stations:

  • WCTR : talk radio
  • Playback FM : Classic Hip Hop
  • Radio Los Santos : Gangsta rap and G-Funk
  • Master Sounds 98.3 : 70’s and 80’s funk sampled by Hip Hop artists
  • Bounce FM : Funk
  • CSR : New Jack Swing and Neo Soul
  • K-Jah West : Dub and Reggae
  • K-DST : Classic Rock
  • Radio X : Alternative rock and Metal
  • SF-UR : House
  • K-Rose : Country

All these radios have been gathered in a collector box with eight CDs, each CD representing a radio: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Official Soundtrack Box Set. Not all the songs from each of the radios have been included, but the compilation already offers a nice diversity.

La Soundtrack officielle

As soon as the game is released, Interscope releases a first Soundtrack in double disc with a DVD with a selection from the game’s radios. Being a mix of all the radios, this first Soundtrack is very varied with a very eclectic selection. The Soundtrack is of good quality since it consists of very well-known singles, but its variety can also be its main flaw, there is no coherent background. Finally, it is more a compilation of hit songs on various genres. It is regrettable that the soundtrack is not more faithful to the central theme of the game with an exclusively Gangsta Rap selection, which would have allowed to gain in coherence.

The second Soundtrack released slightly later with 8 CDs is for me more coherent since each CD gathers its own universe with a dedicated radio.

San Andreas: The Original Mixtape, Young MayLay

A few years later, in 2007, the interpreter of CJ, the underground rapper Young MayLay, will release a mixtape inspired by the game. The money earned thanks to the huge success of the game allows him to create his own record company, and to release his mixtape independently. With this mixtape, does he simply wish to surf on the success of the game? Probably a little bit, but in any case it is not this mixtape that allows him to be known by the general public.

Welcome to San Andreas I’m CJ from Grove Street
Land of the heinous, gang bangers and cold heat
In Los Santos, neighbors get no sleep
Beefing with anybody competin’, even police 

Young MayLay naturally introduces his mixtape by covering the introduction of San Andreas composed by Michael Hunter, San Andreas Theme Song. All the codes of the West Coast music are taken back for this intro, beautifully realized. For me, there is no more perfect introduction for a game, we dive directly into the world of gangs. A discreet drum, an omnipresent bass that breaks the neck, strident sound effects perfectly stacked and a high-pitched whistle that remind us of a Dr Dre’s prod but with an even more developed complexity. Young MayLay takes it as is, but adds a short and effective rap with lyrics briefly describing the game in CJ’s skin.

You can’t say the rhymes are inherently complicated, but the gangsta effect is in the repetition of the word “homeboy,” so typical of gang language. The production gives all the beauty of the song and finally is almost enough for itself.

Cause the ‘Dreas’s full of gangsters, homeboy
Hands is the language for the bangers, homeboy
And it’s dangerous, homeboy
Get your brains ‘fore how you do yo fingers, homeboy

Apart from the introduction, the mixtape deviates slightly from San Andreas, there won’t really be any direct references to San Andreas anymore, we come back to the real world of Los Angeles gangs. In this sense, it’s a pity. A concept album where we would have been in the middle of CJ’s adventures in San Andreas would have been simply magical and nostalgic, and he was the most legitimate to do it, the effect would have been instantaneous. One could have imagined the inclusion of dialogue from the game with stories from the San Andreas missions, a first-person narrative album. Maybe a copyright issue.

The mixtape remains globally of good quality with all the references to the Gangsta Rap West Coast of the 90s, but there is finally nothing particularly original or that stands out. After the introduction, the nostalgic effect gradually fades to fall into the usual codes of Gangsta Rap. Anyway, the album pays a nice tribute to the fallen period of the Californian Gangsta Rap and remains faithful to the theme of the game, which is not the case of the official Soundtracks.

After writing this article, the urge to replay this game from my childhood was omnipresent. I finally bought the game on my phone. I hope the effect will be the same for you: nostalgia for a mythical game that put street-culture and Gangsta Rap back in the forefront.

Find the first part of the article:

By Grégoire Zasa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s