There was once a time that an artist’s fame was defined by their chart topping hits and album releases, but as singers branch out into movies and actors enter the corporate world, musicians are no longer bound by their musical talent, with many of the biggest names in hip hop having a slew of business interests. From Kanye’s Yeezy footwear to Jay‑Z’s takeover of Tidal, rappers are dominating various sectors. One field in particular that hip hop legends have crossed paths with time and time again is the gaming industry. Despite the two seemingly clashing in terms of target audiences, DJ Booth explains that, “The same way that the listening experience for music has changed with the ages, so has gaming.”
The hip hop-gaming crossover has been revisited numerous times in the last two decades, starting off with Wu-Tang Clan’s Mortal Kombat-style game from the late ‘90s. Rappers have established their own storylines and even featured fellow industry names like Eminem and Dr. Dre in 50 Cent: Bulletproof and Blood on the Sand. Thus, it’s become a platform to further promote their music; video games have proven to be an innovative strategy for hip hop artists to expand their brand.
Although gaming companies often partner with the film and comic book industries to release titles such as the groundbreaking DC Comics Legends app and Marvel Roulette hosted by the UK gaming portal Betfair, rappers tend to have a huge following which has catapulted them into major success. Logic, who announced last month that he was launching a YouTube gaming channel, had already racked up over 100,000 subscribers after the first day, most of whom are just his fans possibly waiting for him to develop a game of his own.
Some choose to stick within the confines of their genre. However, the growth in gaming, thanks to unlikely yet groundbreaking partnerships with hip hop artists and other celebs, has paved the way for them to build an empire rather than solely produce an album. As Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku stated, video games are a means to broadcast music to a massive, enthusiastic audience, and rappers appear to have benefited quite well from their ventures.