In the realm of virtual reality, when most people think of the word “score,” they think about points. In whatever format the game was developed, there was undoubtedly a scoring system. A way to accumulate virtual currency, gain power-ups, or literally purchase items. "Score" has another definition in the world of music. To score a soundtrack, for example, would mean to produce and arrange music for a specific purpose. Scoring a video game soundtrack is a very important task, although it is vastly overlooked. Everybody who played video games in their childhood can hum at least one video game theme song. For me, the regal horns of Starfox’s level in the original Super Smash Bros. comes to mind. Music is a vital piece of how players experience games. Flipping through the radio channels while gunning down a rival gang in San Andreas made the experience feel genuine and spontaneous.

The games that featured distinguished hip-hop soundtracks became mainstays in the rap community. To this day, people still discuss the Def Jam video game series, which meshed multi-player melee with rap superstars and dope music. NBA Street Vol. 2 introduced millions of kids to classics by Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Lords Of The Underground. Just like in the real world, hip-hop music took the virtual world by storm. The absolute necessity for a great soundtrack to set the backdrop of loading and menu screens is even more apparent in sports games. Franchises like Madden and NBA 2K have partnered with artists to curate or create music specifically for their games.

Of course, there has been a multitude of games with dope hip-hop soundtracks throughout the years, but these are the best ones. These soundtracks weren’t just thrown together to eliminate the staleness of silence. Instead, these soundtracks made the entire gaming experience better, or may have been the best part of the gaming experience altogether. From DJ Hero to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, here are the greatest video game soundtracks of all time.