Avatars of real-life DJs curate – and create – cool music and players have ownership of their nightclubs in the latest After Hours update, which puts GTA at the heart of pop culture

In 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the first record you hear on a car radio is Billie Jean, no matter what you drive. Unseen code binds this piece of music to an important point in time and the experience of being behind the wheel. When I first got my driving licence, I recreated the moment in my crappy Vauxhall Astra, so strong was the association. In video games such as GTA, as in real life, music and memories are closely interlinked.

Sixteen years since Vice City, Rockstar Games has taken in-game musical experiences further in GTA Online, the immensely popular web version of its famous (and infamous) series. The latest After Hours immortalises four real-life DJs in the most successful entertainment product ever made; nearly 100 million people have bought Grand Theft Auto V, according to Rockstar’s latest figures, and millions of them play online. Now playing in GTA Online’s virtual clubs are Solomun’s pulsing crowd pleasers, Dixon powdery synthesisers, Tale of Us’s sweeping basslines and the Black Madonna’s infectious groove. Each act is debuting new music in nightclubs spread across Grand Theft Auto V’s satirical Los Angeles, Los Santos.

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