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GTA Online did not forget about Dre

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A surprise feature of Grand Theft Auto Online's Cayo Perico heist update, released today, is the presence of the legendary rapper and producer Dr. Dre, alongside fellow artist DJ Pooh and record exec Jimmy Iovine. DJ Pooh, real name Mark Jordan, is a longtime collaborator with Rockstar, having written on and co-produced Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas before returning as a consultant and writer for GTA V and GTA Online.

The hashtag West Coast Classics refers to the GTA radio station of the same name, on which DJ Pooh does some dee-jaying, as well as Dr. Dre being one of the west coast OGs. The brief cameo sees the group get out of their car at the airport, Iovine wondering "who the fuck are these people" referring to the players, before he's reassured by Dre, and the skit ends with a gag about Iovine's ringtone being Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks. 

The Cayo Perico update's release on December 15 also happens to be the original release date of Dr. Dre's debut solo album, The Chronic, one of the best hip-hop records ever made. The date might just be coincidence, or it might not. Sam Houser's dream with Rockstar was always to build a studio brand that was as cool as Def Jam records, the iconic hip-hop label, something that felt like it was a part of creating the culture. Rockstar has long-since passed that point (and Def Jam never had Dre) but moments like this are a reminder of just how embedded GTA now is in our reality.

Unusually enough, this update arrived with a brief press quote from Houser. “The Cayo Perico Heist is our way of getting everyone together to party and dance in the safest possible way while also giving players the chance to take on our biggest and best Heist yet. It’s been a difficult and challenging year, and we wanted to make something everyone could have some fun in–we’re really excited for you to play.”

There's something beautiful and circular about Compton's chosen son coming to Los Santos, a vision of Los Angeles that owes an incalculable debt to the cultural impact of Dre and those like him. Most videogame cameos I can take or leave. But Rockstar does it better.

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."