Radio is alive and well — and getting a major upgrade — in next week's "Grand Theft Auto IV" episode, the downloadable-only Xbox 360 exclusive: "The Lost and Damned."
Rockstar Games music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich broke down the details and even gave MTV News a sneak listen to one of the episode's most radical radio innovations during a telephone interview last week.
(Check out images, including three exclusives, from "Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned.")
[url id="http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/category/grand-theft-auto-the-lost-and-damned/"]"Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned"[/url] is already adding 10 to 20 hours of gameplay focusing on the exploits of new playable character, biker Johnny Klebitz. But why stop there?
Four of the "GTA IV" radio stations are getting new music.
Hip-hop station the Beat 102.7 is gaining a new show of popular hip-hop DJed by Funkmaster Flex and headlined by two new [artist id="1043"]Busta Rhymes[/artist] tracks. One of them, "The Conglomerate," features [artist id="1243444"]Young Jeezy[/artist] and [artist id="1163822"]Jadakiss[/artist].
The Beat is also getting a show DJed by Statik Selektah, featuring all hip-hop recorded and mixed specifically for "GTA." One of the headliners there is [artist id="1211439"]Freeway[/artist], who told MTV News that Selektah asked him to get into the game. "I was excited when I was approached about the opportunity," he said over e-mail. "I used what I know about the past 'GTA' games and just put my own twist on it." His song is called "Car Jack."
Liberty City Hardcore is gaining a new death-metal show DJed by Max Cavalera of [artist id="830"]Sepultura[/artist] and [artist id="250152"]Soulfly[/artist] fame. Among the artists featured will be Bathory.
Liberty Rock Radio 97.8 is getting new rock songs, with [artist id="1086"]Iggy Pop [/artist]returning as the DJ.
Radio Broker, the indie-rock station DJed by [artist id="1199387"]Juliette Lewis[/artist], is also getting new music.
Pavlovich won't reveal the exact number of new songs in the $20 expansion, but he did explain the motivation for what was added. All the new rock and metal is designed to suit the mood of the episode's story, one that chronicles the adventures and stresses of a Liberty City motorcycle gang. "This really focuses on biker songs and a little more aggressive songs," Pavlovich said.
The new hip-hop was added because the Beat had proven to be the most popular "GTA IV" radio station. The approach with Flex was to provide hip-hop that has more of a national appeal than the New York-focused shows of original Beat DJs Mr. Cee and Green Lantern.
Rockstar has programmed "The Lost and Damned" to make sure the new music gets attention. The new rock songs will be weighted to play first in the otherwise-random mix on those stations. The new Flex, Statik Selektah and Cavalera shows will play in blocks, before the original shows on their respective stations get their turn in rotation.
Pavlovich and his team have pulled some other tricks too. They've got [artist id="21435"]Funkmaster Flex[/artist] doing a phone interview with Busta Rhymes on the Beat. Pavlovich played a version of the conversation for MTV News over the phone, explaining that it was essentially a freestyle interview conducted between the two hip-hop icons. Busta talks about holding down hip-hop for Liberty City and plugs his real-world album. They banter a bit and intro one of Busta's new songs. Pavlovich said that Flex had a lot of fun with his recording session for "The Lost and Damned." The DJ even spoofed his real-world rant about R. Kelly, but how that one goes down won't be revealed until you play the game for yourself.
All of the music in the "The Lost and Damned" will be linked to iTunes, Rockstar's new partner for "GTA IV" music. Players can hear songs in the game, tag them and find a list of their marked songs on Rockstar's Web site, ready for iTunes purchase. Rockstar had launched "GTA IV" last year with a similar deal structured through Amazon's music store.
All of this music is exclusive to Xbox 360 games, because "Lost and Damned" itself is not coming to the PlayStation 3. It and a second upcoming "GTA IV" episode are Xbox 360 exclusives. "The Lost and Damned," which is rated M, will be available for download through the Xbox Live Marketplace on February 17. It requires a copy of the original "GTA IV" game.
For much more about "GTA IV" and tons of other video games, check out our gaming blog at Multiplayer.MTV.com.