This morning 2K Games has announced that Pharrell Williams will be curating the soundtrack for the upcoming NBA 2K15. The Grammy Award winning producer will hand-select an eclectic and diverse track listing in what's been announced as the largest and most creatively diverse soundtracks in the franchise's history. Previous soundtracks in the NBA 2K series have been curated by both Jay Z and LeBron James, and now Pharrell hopes to bring his own unique tastes to the franchise's next installment.
Speaking to assembled reporters at the Crosby St. Hotel, Pharrell opens up about his process, fatherhood, and LeBron heading back to Cleveland.
You wanna talk a little bit about just your decision to make this soundtrack with 2K?
Well, first of all thanks for having me and thank you to everybody for being here today. The funny thing with me is that, like, I don’t know how I - you know, when you say I got a chance, I decided to curate the music, it was something that I accepted but I couldn’t believe that my name had gotten, you know, tossed in the hat for it. You know, I was, I’m still, I’m honored because I know that when, you know, there’s so many other people that were probably super, way more like deserving of the opportunity. So when I got a chance to do it I was like, Ok cool, I just wanna try and do something different though, you know? And I didn’t, and I’m hoping that it works and you guys like it.
I thought it’d be such an interesting twist to have the girls weigh in on the song list, because they’re the ones that listen to it, they listen to it just as much.
What was your first step was when you accepted this role. When you sat down and started brainstorming, what was the first step you took?
Well, I actually had like some people from my staff, they were all girls, and we just talked about it, and I was like, Man I gotta do this, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to pull this off, because you know I think Jay did it and LeBron, right?
Yeah, LeBron picked it last year.
Wow, I’m like damn like how do I follow up those guys? They know so much more about this sport than I do, you know? I mean, I’m not screaming like, touchdown. But like, you know, after free throw, lay up, couple dunks, I don’t know what a crossover is. I mean, I know what a crossover is. I might not know how to do it. But so like, I’m like man, how do I kill it? And then I just thought, You know what? There are girls that play the game and there’s a lot of girls that are around it because their boyfriends play it or their friends play it. So I thought it’d be such an interesting twist to have the girls weigh in on the song list, because they’re the ones that listen to it, they listen to it just as much. So I was just trying to pick like an alternative approach, you know, because how do you follow up like LeBron and Jay? You gotta take a different route. So I just, I don’t know, I just thought it’d be cool, and then when we finished looking at the list it just felt good, it felt right.
How many songs are on it?
We don’t have the final number, but I’ll be able to get you something roughly. I know it is our largest soundtrack to date.
Obviously this is for a video game, it’s a soundtrack, were you a big gamer growing up? Did it help you kind of form friendships?
I know it’s kind of like a community effort, video games, and you picture video games, you picture everybody at someone’s house playing and interacting. Yeah, my friends just play a ton. Actually, when I was super young. But, no you know what, it was mostly like my friends that were like, hardcore gamers, so whether it’s basketball or football—football became popular later, but like basketball always dominated the space. And my friends used to play all the time. That was just part of our environment. In fact, wanna know what’s really funny? This is a really crazy moment, I’m just realizing this: Shay is playing NBA… I don’t know what year that was… yeah, Shay was playing the game on the cover of In Search Of. Wow. That’s trippy. That’s like, really crazy.Shoutout to Shay.
As far as the medium, is this something that you could see yourself, dabbling in more in the future, with video games or outside of just this soundtrack, is this something that just speaks to you creatively?
I mean listen, looks like I have to based off of that last like, you know, correlation. Looks like there should be more things. I was just talking to them off camera about an idea, something that would be interesting in that space, that I would love to be a part of. We’ll see, I mean, there’s that and I’ve always wanted to do something in the Sims world. But we’ll see.
You said that you’re not like the biggest basketball head, did you watch NBA playoffs, are you like into it?
Oh no, LeBron is the king.
How did you take the Cleveland news?
Yes. Of course.
Are you a Heat fan?
But I get it, you know, I understand. You know, that’s where he’s from. It’s always like a… coming home is a big thing for anyone. It’s going out and done it. You know, he went out and proved something.
Won two titles, was in four finals.
It’s not a bad day at the office. But he deserves it, he deserves to do what he wants to do and go where he wants to be. But I’m still a huge fan. I was always a fan of his because of who he was, not where he was coming from. It was where he continued to take himself. That’s when they mean ‘a fan.’
Going off LeBron, when LeBron went back to Cleveland to be with family and go back to where he was from, you know, video games, are you a big gamer now, are you teaching your son video games, music?
My son teaches me. It’s crazy. He teaches me.
They’re younger and younger getting into iPads, tech, that’s another gate that you said he’s showing you?
Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s just, and this is one of those times in your life where you’re like, you think about that one interview when someone asked you like a serious question, and that just hit me just now. When you asked me about like my son and my answer to you is, He teaches me. That’s bizarre to me. Just, the world is changing, is what I’m saying.
Has he changed your world completely? I mean, he starting to come into his own at like six years old, is that?
Yeah, he’s changed my world too. He’s gonna be excited about this.
Curating NBA 2K15, it’s gonna be great for him.
I still can’t believe it, that we’re like, talking about it.
How did you find time to put this list together and put these songs together? I mean, obviously you have so many different ventures.
Well, honestly it didn’t take us very long. I think the longest part of the process was getting songs approved and finding out if like half of them couldn’t. But I think the actual part of the process is we were in France, we were in France, and kinda like, backstage at a show and I remembered looking up Strafe online and just tripping that we got to play this song. Pumped about that.
It’s like, Strafe was like black 80’s punk to me.
Hip-hop has always had a strong showing throughout the entire franchise and soundtrack. Can you give us, I guess you mentioned Strafe, can you give us any other examples of maybe some like rock representation that might be making the cut for the soundtrack?
Which System of a Down song made it? We’re talking about artists?
*Singing* “Self-righteous suicide,” what is that called? Angel something?
Chop Suey. I was thinking, “Angels deserve to die.” Listen, by the way, and I know I’m like with the weird look on my face, but I’m just tripping out that we get to put this cool music, and it’s like, this never happens. You know, the system, it’s never like that, where you look up and you just go, Wow we just pulled that off. So, I’m pumped, I’m excited. I’m happy to be here. So thank you.