If you have been under a rock, 2K revealed that Hip-Hop superstar and part-time professional hooper J. Cole is gracing the cover of the NBA 2K23 Dreamer Edition.
The game will not only feature Cole on the cover, but he, alongside his Dreamville crew Bas and producer Elite will also star in the game’s MyCAREER story, which 2K boasts is “the largest and most involved storyline in franchise history.”
The Fayetteville, North Carolina-raised rapper will also serve as the executive producer for NBA 2K23’s in-game soundtrack, featuring Hip-Hop’s biggest stars. In doing so, Cole will join the likes of DJ Khaled and JAY-Z, who also curated sounds for previous game iterations.
Cole’s involvement with NBA 2K also continues the strong relationship with the insanely popular basketball video game franchise and the Hip-Hop culture. Hip-Hop Wired had the opportunity to speak with Bas and Elite ahead of the cover’s reveal to touch on the role Hip-Hop plays in NBA 2K, J. Cole landing an NBA 2K23 cover, their 2K skills, and much more.
Step into the interview below.
Hip-Hop Wired: What’s it like seeing J. Cole on the cover of NBA 2K23? How dope is that? I mean, being that, he is the first rapper to cover an NBA 2K game.
Bas: Yeah. The whole experience was dope. Even going up to the Bay [San Francisco] and doing the MoCap. That was really cool. Just obviously being lifelong 2K fans to get a peak behind the curtain. Me. Lee and Cole all got dressed up in a motion cap suit, and Cole even has animations in the game as far as his jump shot and dribble animations. He’s got some celebrations, so we’ll be spending our VC buying some pole animations and some dreamers and all that good stuff. So it is definitely surreal. I mean, gaming’s been a part of my whole life. I’m sure Elite could speak for the same. We’ve been rocking with 2K for feels like decades now damn near. So to have a chance to be a part of it is definitely surreal.
Elite: Yeah. I mean, it’s crazy. It’s one of those things that it’s a dream that you never actually dreamed because [I] never thought it would really be possible. It’s like, yeah, of course, being in NBA 2K is a dream, but I never sat down and was like, I’m going to really be in NBA 2K. But here we are. So it’s pretty amazing, man. I mean, me and Bas play all the time. I’m probably going to play soon as we get off this.
HHW: Why do you think NBA 2K is such a great platform, especially for Hip-Hop artists? And why do you think that Hip-Hop and the world of video games work so well together?
Bas: Well, I think Hip-Hop is culture. You see Hip-Hop dances in all these games. People are animating the dances in there. I guess it’s the intersection. The same people that are playing these games are fans of the Hip-Hop culture. Basketball and Hip-Hop have always been very intertwined. Whether it’s the fashion of the athletes themselves or the music that athletes listen to. If you catch Bron playing your song in the whip on IG, that’s a rollout. And obviously, a lot of us are friendly with a lot of these guys. So I think it’s just culture at the end of the day. These things are at an intersection in culture, whether it’s Hip-Hop, gaming, or basketball. So they all kind of make sense together.
Elite: Yeah. A hundred percent. I mean, I don’t know what else to say because you pretty much nailed it. I mean, it’s just anybody that you meet in the studios like nine out of ten times they’re going to be playing 2K.
Bas: Or we’ll have the games on. If there’s a basketball game on, we’re in the studio with the game on, it might be on mute, and we’re working, but we’re watching the game. And when we do shows, these guys come to our shows. So I think just the cultures are very intertwined.
Elite: We played 2K after the shows on tour. Sometimes it’s just part of the, like you said, as part of the culture.
HHW: Bas, you did mention Bron playing your songs in the whip and stuff like that. Does that ever rub you any wrong way? If he plays your song and he doesn’t really know the words to it.
Bas: He ain’t never played any of my songs. He don’t got know any of my words. Just play my songs, Bron. Play any of my songs, Bron. I’ll take it. You’re the goat, man. I’m sure he’s got better things to do than learn your raps. The man is going on 20 years in the L. I just need one of them clips to go viral, and we outta here.
HHW: True that. Would you let him A&R one of your albums?
Bas: A hundred percent. Holler at me, Bron.
HHW: You both mentioned y’all play 2K a lot. I have to ask who’s the 2K champ out of the Dreamville crew. Who takes the crown, who is one, two, or three?
Bas: I think I’m RPI one, but we play together. We play together so.
Elite: You definitely can run the point. I give him that, man. I just learned my player this year. I’m a MyTEAM fanatic. When it comes to MyTEAM, that’s what I’ve been playing for the last ten years or eight years or whatever. But Bas, he got MyPLAYER down. He recruited me this year, and I joined the squad, and I’ve been playing more.
Bas: We got a well-balanced team, though. Yeah. Elite is spotting up, knockdown shooter. He’s learning to move off the ball, making my life easy. We got E. He got a good center. We got a whole squad. Cole got a forward. He got like a wing. It is good. Honestly, more than anything, it just brings all of us together at the end of the night, or we could be all across the world, but we’ll just hop in that party chat.
Elite: That’s the best part about the MyPLAYER.
Bas: It really definitely keeps our community tight. Keeps our community together. Just keeps us across vast distances being able to just still have a pickup game with the bros.
HHW: That’s the beautiful thing about NBA 2K. One, it is not just the basketball game anymore. It is a growing community, one and two, that you guys can pick it up and play basketball anywhere. That’s the best part about it. You ain’t got to be in the same city to play. So that’s a beautiful thing. And also, it’s kind of cool to know you guys just be randomly on there.
Elite: *laughs* Not randomly, consistently.
HHW: So do people actually know that it’s you guys playing them, or do they have no idea?
Bas: It’s rare. I mean, sometimes I’ll tweet out my gamer tag or something, and I’ll spend a day adding a bunch of fans, and I play with a bunch of fans too. Sometimes we’ll need to pick up one. And that’s also, that’s another cool thing about it is there’s certain environments obviously you can interact with your fan base where it’s not as natural as it is in 2K. They could be your biggest fan, but for those 30 minutes, they’re just you’re power forward.
As far as the interaction, it makes it just very chill, very organic, very much just like, all right, we’re just playing the game. And then they’re holding on to a few questions where they’ll ask you after the game. People have the sense of how to approach you, whereas, on the street, it’s not usually necessarily like that. You just get mobbed, and you’re like, whoa.
Elite: It’s like, okay, I can focus on playing the game too.
Bas: And talk about all the stuff the fans want to talk about. So it’s kind of cool. It is a cool platform to interact with the fan base.
HHW: Do you guys have funny experiences while playing?
Bas: I mean sure. You’ll run across some toxic characters every now and then. For the most part, it’s real pleasant though. But I remember one time we actually played some fans who realized it was us.
Elite: Oh yeah. And they were letting us score and stuff.
Bas: They were smacking us. I mean thrashing us. And then one of them started messaging E tips like, yo bro, you should do this, you should do that. The other one started letting me score. We were like, yo, what’s going on? I don’t even want it like this, but it was just funny. You could tell once they found out it was us, they were really trying to let us win, but we know want a competitive game on this side.
HHW: Look at them being nice. See, they’re not all bad. See, that’s actually a pretty cool story, man.
Bas: I think, for the most part, it’s a bunch of good people on there that just want to play ball. If you play team ball every now and then, you just get a nut that just wants to chuck a hundred shots, and it’s just out for self, and it’s like, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s going to the park.
Elite: It’s like real life.
Bas: You learn so much about people on a basketball court. And it’s kind of the same in 2K, right ? There’s team players. There’s like selfless team players. There’s playmakers, and then there’s just like, guys that just want to chuck the rock, that’s unavoidable.
HHW: Are there any new features or modes you guys looking forward to in the new game?
Bas: I was reading a lot about some of the new badges. You know the badge is always a fun part of every year’s rollout. Definitely the little, was is it? The boost, Elite?
Elite: Yeah. The three boosts. Now they take away your turbo. It’s like to get rid of the over-dribbling.
Bas: I think they’ve always been good at balancing the game even throughout the year. And then next year, you kind of see a culmination of all the balances. I feel like that’s kind of the formula. So I think ’22 was great. I thought it was really well-balanced. You know, really needed a one through five, which not year was like that where you needed every position to really have the best team you could have. So hopefully, they kind of build on that balance.
Elite: They definitely listened to the community. Because I noticed even in my team, one of the biggest complaints is always, we got to get rid of contracts, please get rid of contracts. And this year, they got rid of contracts, which is like, I didn’t really care that much about it. But I noticed that the community was heavy asking for that, and they gave it to them. So now there’s no contracts, so that’s dope. But my team is always fun for me. I’m into it every year. So I’m always excited for the new content every season. I’m hooked, man. They got me. I’m hooked in.
HHW: 2K ratings are a big deal. All the players want to know their 2K ratings. What would Cole’s real-life hooper rating be?
Bas: Real-life hooper rating. I probably give Cole like a solid 84.
Elite: That’s fair. But if it’s a MyTEAM card, y’all got to give him something higher though. He needs to be in the nineties if it’s MyTEAM.
Bas: I would say in our crew, he probably rises to the top as far as hooping. He’s very dedicated. He’s been playing in a few leagues. He played in Canada. He played obviously in Africa. He’s like always, actually legit training. Obviously, it goes even back to his branding, whether it’s Friday Night Lights and The Warm Up and all of that. Basketball’s always been very central to the Cole story. And that’s for a reason, dude loves to hoop.
HHW: As a 2K player, what would our MyPLAYER rating be?
Bas: Oh, as a 2K player. I’m like a 97. I won’t say 99 because I’m humble.
HHW: Where are you deducting the two points from?
Bas: Humility. Just humility.
HHW: There are no weaknesses in your game?
Bas: Nah, there are no weaknesses my game. But I might let you think there is.
HHW: How about you, Elite? What would your rating be in 2K?
Elite: MyTEAM, I’m going like 95. But MyPLAYER, maybe a 91. I’m decent at MyPLAYER, but I’m much better at MyTEAM because that’s the one I play.
Photo: Visual Concepts / NBA 2K23 Dreamer Edition
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