To clear up any confusion at the outset, if NBA Live 08 was a soundtrack I would’ve BEEN DONE bought it. The only way you’re getting this OST though is to buy a copy of the game and find a way to rip the audio, or just listen to it while it’s loaded into the game console of your choice. Honestly that’s not a bad idea given you can get most sports titles over a decade old for anywhere from fifty cents to a dollar at pawn shops, thrifts and used game stores. Unless it’s something with an infamously short print run like NCAA College Basketball 2K3 on GameCube, sports game are stupid cheap. Sometimes they’re so cheap you wind up buying them just to use as a replacement case for a more expensive game in a busted ass shell.

Eve’s “Tambourine” featuring Swizz Beatz is one of the many solid reasons to listen. Even though it became the first Eve single to chart in over four years in 2007, it STAYED a single and she didn’t drop a new album until “Lip Lock” in 2013. Other songs here fared slightly better in getting a release outside NBA Live. “Hip Hop Lives” by KRS-One & Marley Marl was featured on the album of the same name, and KRS’ declaration that “hip-hop is eternal” resonates strongly over the old school “House of Hits” style production. “If you think hip-hop is alive, hold up your lighter!”

NBA Live soundtracks are always heavy in their hip-hop representation, which only seems natural given the close association between “balling” on and off the court, not to mention actual NBA players dabbling in rap music from time to time. NBA Live 08 stands out for a couple of reasons though. The first is that underground rap acts like Cool Kids (“rooftop like I’m bringing ’88 back”) and Mr. J Medeiros are prominently featured, meaning whoever curated the selections for the game had their ear to the scene and hopefully that funneled some video game royalties into a few pockets.

The second thing that I dig about this particular edition is the way Jamaican riddims find their way into the mix. The Dub Pistols were never shy about including it in their UK big beat and dubstep, and they have Terry Hall flow over it on “Running From the Thoughts.” A more direct line can be drawn straight through to the island with Stephen Marley’s “Hey Baby,” crooning his way over a melody that’s almost TOO relaxing for a hype NBA game. “Well I hope you find it in your heart and know these words are true/and please don’t fuss because I must go do what I must do.” Chilllllll.

There’s also a shockingly throwback track from English singer Joss Stone, whose “Tell Me ‘Bout It” sounds ripped straight from the soulful R&B scene of the 1970’s. The up tempo patois of Kid Beyond’s “Mothership” goes in the exact opposite direction, sounding 10-20 years ahead of its time. From the pop sensibility of The D.E.Y.’s “Got the Feeling” to the P-Funky “Love Ya” from UnkleJam (I swear that’s Pharrell singing on it even if it’s not), every song hits me just right whenever it comes up in rotation.

What I’m saying here is that NBA Live 08 is a “bang for your buck” situation. A few songs here might be available elsewhere, but you’d spend more curating them individually than you would buying this game as a whole. Others are exclusive remixes of those tracks just for EA, so they wouldn’t be available outside it unless EA pressed up physical copies and sold them. Since they were already selling the game itself, they probably would’ve thought that a huge waste of time. The music here is certainly not that. It’s not revolutionary nor earth shattering, but it’s a very solid collection that easily stands on its own off the court.

various artists :: NBA Live 08 OST
7Overall Score