Since NBA 2K21’s soundtrack is being updated for next-gen, we had to take a look back at the 10 best songs from NBA 2K10 to 2K20.
Music has always been a way for people to express themselves in ways they otherwise couldn’t. NBA 2K’s soundtrack has always been superb and it helps give players a feeling of being in the NBA.
In honor of NBA 2K21’s expanded soundtrack on next-generation consoles, we gathered up the 10 best songs in the series.
A few notes: some 2K games may not have an entry at all, some songs may not be safe for work and everything on this list is purely subjective. The purpose of this list is to enjoy these hits and have a good time.
And so, here are the 10 best songs from NBA 2K10 to NBA 2K20.
“Don’t Sweat the Technique” – Eric B. and Rakim (NBA 2K21)
Heard in the next-generation trailer for NBA 2K21, “Don’t Sweat the Technique” just missed the cut. That said, I had to include it on the list because it’s simply a must-listen.
Rakim’s masterful flow along with Eric B.’s ability to mix Kool & The Gang with Young-Holt Unlimited to create a jazzy and upbeat sample is unmatched. Make no mistake about it, Rakim kills it on this track.
His forceful exclamations of being the best rapper around combined with his style really makes it feel like he is the greatest of his time. More than anything, it’s really groovy and a memorable song.
“Sirius” – The Alan Parsons Project (Numerous games)
I had to include this song here simply because the Greatest Player of All Time jogged out to this song. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not hear “From North Carolina, at guard, 6-6, Michael Jordan!”
Also, there is so much history behind “Sirius” and what it’s meant to the general NBA landscape in the years since it was first introduced.
Simply put, “Sirius” is timeless.
The Top 10:
10. “Proud of U” – EarthGang ft. Young Thug (NSFW) (NBA 2K20)
“Proud of U” is a song praising all the strong women in EarthGang and Young Thug’s lives. Not only is it catchy, but that added layer makes the song more relatable because who wouldn’t want to show their gratitude to all the strong women in their lives that helped them succeed?
A personal note: I chose this song because whenever my friends and I played in NBA 2K20’s Park, this song was always playing, especially during games when we were getting destroyed by the “Elites.”
Even in those moments, EarthGang is still proud of us.
9. “Basketball” – Kurtis Blow (NBA 2K12)
“Basketball” by Kurtis Blow is a 3-minute, 48-second ode to how great basketball is. What’s not to love?
Sure, it may not be as lyrically appealing or have the same complicated instrumentation as other songs on the list, but it’s still a fun listen. In particular, hearing Blow profess his love for all things basketball like dribbling the ball, throwing up an alley-oop or running a pick-and-roll is always entertaining.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the music video is extremely unique, for lack of a better term. Special shoutout to the random guys fighting with sticks and trying to reverse hook kick one another while Blow is talking about basketball.
8. “Scenario” – A Tribe Called Quest (NSFW) (NBA 2K15)
“Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest is one of those songs that really gets people going. When the drums kick in, it’s hard not to bob your head and enjoy yourself.
The song also featured a 19-year-old Busta Rhymes as part of a “posse cut.” Put simply, a “posse cut” is a way for established artists to give some spotlight to their less-known friends and peers.
A Tribe Called Quest has been featured many times in the 2K series but “Scenario” is still the best.
7. “0-100/The Catch Up” – Drake (NSFW) (NBA 2K16)
Essentially two songs in one, “0-100/The Catch Up” encapsulates how I felt playing NBA 2K16: going 0-100 in a few seconds to start catching up to then taking time to relax. “0-100”’s beat goes hard and it just gets you in the mood to go to the gym and put up a few hundred shots – something I’ve done before, like “Chef Curry with the pop.”
Meanwhile, “The Catch Up” is softer, with an introspective and thoughtful Drake thinking about his life. In all, the song does a great job switching gears without being too jarring.
It’s perfect to listen to after coming back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter.
6. “Rosa Parks” – OutKast (NSFW) (NBA 2K17)
Featured on OutKast’s third album, “Aquemini,” “Rosa Parks” wasn’t their biggest hit or their best-selling. Still, it’s an incredibly slick song thanks to Big Boi and Andre 3000’s lyricism and flow and the accompanying instruments backing them.
“Rosa Parks” may not have a lot to do with basketball, but it’s still a very good listen regardless. There was some history between OutKast and the real Rosa Parks regarding the song, but that’s neither here nor there.
“Rosa Parks” is a fantastic song in and of itself.
5. “All of the Lights” – Kanye West (NSFW) (NBA 2K14)
One of the most memorable songs on Kanye West’s magnum opus, “All of the Lights” pumps up players from the jump. The horns, drums and other instruments, accompanied by Rihanna and West’s vocals, really get the player going.
“All of the Lights” had 14 (!) different artists provide backing vocals including Kid Cudi, Elton John, Fergie, Drake, Alicia Keys, among others. West and Rihanna even performed the song at halftime during the 2011 NBA All-Star Game and was the promo song for that years’ All-Star game.
If nothing else, the song is supremely catchy and an exemplary piece of music.
4. “The World is Yours” – Nas (NSFW) (NBA 2K13)
Often cited as one of the best hip-hop songs of all time, one listen of “The World is Yours” tells you why. Inspired by the infamous phrase from 1983’s Scarface, Nas’ lyrical flow is second-to-none and the instrumental itself is superb.
In a way, both the song and motto could represent basketball players too. Many basketball players come from poverty and use basketball as a way to get themselves and their families out of that situation. They’re ambitious and the world is theirs if they strive for it.
Nas is one of the best rappers of all time and “The World is Yours” is proof of that.
3. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” – Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth (NBA 2K18)
NBA 2K18 had arguably one of the best soundtracks in the series featuring Kendrick Lamar, Eric B. and Rakim, Nas, Dame D.O.L.L.A, Souls of Mischief, A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, Mobb Deep and more.
But Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You” is the best song. Not only is the song easy to listen to, what with the “Today” sample by Tom Scott being used perfectly, “T.R.O.Y.” digs deep as well.
“They Reminisce Over You” is a tribute to Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s friend, Troy, who died. C.L. Smooth raps about his own life and recalls his experiences with Troy, reminiscing about their time together.
“T.R.O.Y.” is just a fantastically composed song.
2. “Shook Ones, Pt. II” – Mobb Deep (NSFW) (Numerous games)
Whether you’re listening to the full version or the instrumental, “Shook Ones, Pt. II” is an instantly recognizable song, no matter the occasion. It’s grimy, real, and most of all, unforgettable.
So timeless is “Shook Ones” that the NBA even used an instrumental for it for one of its playoff commercials and has been featured in multiple NBA 2K games. It never fails to hype.
Straight up, “Shook Ones, Pt. II” is a bonafide classic.
1. “Amazing” – Kanye West ft. Young Jeezy (Numerous games)
With West being such an ardent basketball fan, it’s surprising that he has so few songs in 2K. But whenever he does get featured, it’s usually a banger. Look no further than “Amazing.”
Fairly simple in composition, West on “Amazing” chronicles his excellence while Young Jeezy joins in toward the end. It’s not the most complex song on the list, but it’s one of the more well-known songs.
“Amazing” is just the perfect song to play basketball to. It gets the people pumped, is catchy and most of all, it’s got staying power. That’s why it’s been featured in multiple 2K games and used by the NBA for the 2009 Playoffs.
In all, you can’t go wrong with any of the songs above. They are sure to get you pumped and in the mood to snatch some ankles, dunk on defenders and hit a game-winning 3-pointer. That’s why they’re the 10 best songs in the series.