In a most unlikely use of icons by a video game publisher 2K Sports enlisted basketball standard Michael Jordan to do the voiceover in a video announcing Jay-Z as executive producer of the upcoming NBA 2K13. Among other duties, Jay-Z is said to be curating the game's soundtrack, which is expected to include tunes (Spotify required) that will surely benefit the game's executive producer.
“NBA 2K13 will be the next evolution in sports and basketball culture, and I’m ready to usher in the new era of the franchise" said Jay-Z in a statement.
Great. Now that the facts are out of the way, let's get to the "what the hell?" part of this episode. On the positive side, there's nothing that says success like Jay-Z blessing you or your product with his attention. As an MC, the guy has always been a frontrunner partnering with whichever artist is heating up past a certain threshold. Behold his collaborations with Lil Wayne just as Weezy was crossing over in 2007 as an example. NBA 2k cements itself as the definitive basketball experience, and the second most important franchise in sports video games, with this announcement. And if you're wondering, it's FIFA, not Madden NFL.
On the skeptical side, you have to wonder if the financial interest 2K Sports had to commit is worth whatever benefits Jay-Z brings to NBA 2K. You don't sell extra games because of the soundtrack and make no mistake, 2K Sports wants as many folks as possible dropping that full $59.99. That's why pre-orders and special editions are so crucial. If Jay-Z's stature in the music industry somehow allows 2K sports to get tracks at a discount --and a cool soundtrack really only enhances a game's nebulous "cool" factor-- then maybe there's something there. Beyond toting 2K Sports around with him to concerts, talk show appearances and vacations overseas, it's tough to see what a Jay-Z partnership brings to NBA 2K that NBA 2k isn't already or can't do for itself.
There may be another sneaker dropping on this one.
Oh and one last question: even if you allow that Jay-Z is to Hip Hop what Michael Jordan it to basketball, why would it be Jordan doing the voiceover introducing Jay-Z? Shawn Carter's voice is iconic and distinct so introducing himself (like the damn song says) would've been a good play here. I can't think of when it would be appropriate for Jordan to introduce anybody in terms of the respect heirarchy. Maybe Muhammad Ali? That makes about as much sense as MJ introducing Jigga.