The soundtrack to last year’s excellent NBA2K6 included exclusive tracks from such hip-hop stars as the Roots, Aesop Rock, Common, Lyrics Born, Oh No, RJD2, and Blackalicious. It was one of the best video-game soundtracks of all time. Not content to let NBA2K7 be a lesser product, 2K Sports hired Dan “The Automator” Nakamura, one of the world’s most respected deejays, to arrange the game’s audio environment. And with the legendary producer holding the reigns, 2K7 shines as brightly as its predecessor.
The disc (which apparently had to be put together in two months, often via mail) includes some of the best in the business, including Hieroglyphics, Ghostface, Mos Def, Lupe Fiasco, Fabolous, and E-40. The album opens with the up-tempo groove of Houston emcee Slim Thug’s “I Love This Game,” which could have sit nicely next to his remix of “I Ain’t Heard of That” from last year’s Already Platinum LP. Rhymefest, who co-wrote “Jesus Walks,” contributed “Bang the Ball,” which sidesteps his Blue Collar LP a bit. The standout here is “Champions” from Aceyalone and Rakaa of Dilated Peoples. It’s a funk-driven, Jurassic 5-style romp that begs to be played loudly.
Other highlights include Lupe Fiasco’s superb “Catch Me” and Dan the Automator’s new remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Lyrics to Go,” from 1993’s Midnight Marauders. Charli 2na (of Jurassic 5) and Zion I turn in respectively hot tracks, and the Mos Def/Anwar Superstar collab is as good as it sounds like it should be.
Dan the Automator’s production hasn’t ceased to astound, and his choice of artists is impeccable. The emcees turn in solid performances, leading to a collection of court-worthy songs. Listening to this soundtrack also gets me more excited to hear what Nakamura will assemble with Kid Koala and Del tha Funkee Homosapien for the second Deltron 3030 album, which they’ve been working on. And I can’t wait to see what the game designers have up their sleeves for NBA2K8.