The pro basketball scene of the early ’90s was a wild time when teams became more defined by the individual, superstar players, and their marketability. Shaq was definitely one of the forebearers of that movement, even if he wouldn’t find true success as an NBA champion until eight years into his career. I suppose he always had all those fat stacks of Shaq Deisel money to fall back on? Regardless, the NBA 2K21 in-game soundtrack channels a similar “Oh, they’re letting him do that?” energy. NBA 2K21 cover athlete and Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will debut two featured songs on the soundtrack under his musical guise of “Dame D.O.L.L.A.”
“To be on the cover alone is a big deal to me, but to be on the cover and also have my music be a part of the game is a huge accomplishment as well,” said Lillard, who is also, as mentioned, on the cover of this year’s iteration of the game. “Personally, I’ve been introduced to new artists, songs and genres that I might hear on the radio, but I heard it first on NBA 2K.” While the game releases on September 4 a sampling of the 52-track playlist is now yours to be heard, featuring such beloved and current rap and hip-hop artists as Lil Baby, The Weeknd, and… uh… The Strokes?
Check out 49 songs in the Spotify playlist (minus Lillard’s two songs and one as-yet-unknown song) below. 2K says that additional artists and tracks will be added to the game over time via updates, and that the next-gen version will feature 202 songs at launch, with even more added later “spanning across hip-hop, R&B, electronic, pop, and rock.” Current-gen versions will be stuck with the 52 songs that launch with the title. Suddenly that $70 premium for the next-gen version of the game starts to make a little sense as we get a clearer picture of 2K’s support strategy NBA 2K21 on next-gen consoles.
While most trap and modern rap that finds itself on the Hot 100 may not be your thing, there certainly isn’t any discounting how influential a licensed video game soundtrack can be. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that everyone was hyped up over the Tony Hawk 1 and 2 soundtrack being included almost fully intact when it arrives in the fall. And in total fairness: we’ve yet to hear Lillard’s tracks—which again, will debut with the game—but he’d have to try pretty hard to create anything nearly half as terrible as Shaq’s debut rap album. That’s the stuff of nightmares.
NBA 2K21 arrives on all current-gen consoles on September 4, with next-gen versions coming this holiday season.