Why The ‘NBA 2K’ Soundtrack Is As Seminal To The Video Game As Basketball Itself

The 'NBA 2K' soundtrack, curated this year by Travis Scott, is a must-listen-to playlist that contains hip-hop's most fire tracks.

Since its inception in 1999, few gaming franchises have permeated popular culture like 'NBA 2K', and even fewer can claim to match its longevity. The fall release of ‘NBA 2K19’ marks the game’s 20-year anniversary, and to celebrate the milestone, Complex is dropping a three-part documentary series entitled ‘The 2K Dynasty: 20 Years in the Making’, told through the lens of the biggest 2K celebrity stans on the planet.

Hip-hop and basketball are synonymous. While the concept isn’t new, the NBA 2K franchise has offered it a deeper level of significance. The 2K soundtrack, once a collection of generic beats and alt-rock music, has transformed into a must-hear playlist that contains the year’s most fire tracks and provides an unexpected platform for lesser known artists.

“The soundtrack is now becoming an A&R sort of thing where we’re kind of finding the new guys bubbling and exposing the rest of the world to new music,” says 2K game developer Michael Howard.

To land a record on a 2K soundtrack is to ensure that it’s heard by millions. Visibility for fresher acts like King Krule, Nef the Pharaoh, and Alison Wonderland are tremendous.

“A track of mine on 2K would be everything,” MC Pardison Fontaine tells Complex. “I’ve been aspiring to be on 2K as much as I’ve aspired to win a Grammy.”

JAY-Z, Pharrell Williams, LeBron James, and other mega-stars have all curated the 2K soundtrack. This year, Houston’s own Travis Scott is on setlist duties. What better way to celebrate 20 years of the world’s best basketball video game franchise than by paying homage to the sounds guiding gamer experience? The music is as lit as ever.

Watch the latest installment of 'The 2K Dynasty' above entitled “Tone Setters.” And ICYMI, check out episode 1 (“Game On”) and be on the lookout for the third episode dropping next week on Complex.

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