J. Cole is one of the cover stars for NBA 2K23 with a special “Dreamer Edition” releasing on September 9th. The Fayetteville rapper will be the first non-professional NBA or WNBA player to front the basketball video game franchise, and will also appear in the game’s story mode and soundtrack.
The news was shared by Cole in a tweet featuring the “Dreamer Edition” artwork and the caption: “This shit crazy. NBA2K23 cover. 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯 DREAMER @NBA2K.” In a statement, he elaborated by saying, “NBA 2K has long been a place to discover new musical talent through their game and continues to be a gold standard for showcasing all things basketball culture. It’s been an amazing journey to not only appear on a cover of this year’s game, but to be part of the MyCAREER storyline, soundtrack, and bring the Dreamer brand into NBA 2K.”
In a separate tweet, 2K Digital Marketing Director Ronnie “2K” Singh shared a behind-the-scenes photo of the rapper in a motion-capture suit and revealed that the collaboration had been in the works for “more than 3 years.” He capped the announcement with the message: “Glad to take the game to a whole new level.” See the full posts below.
Though J. Cole and a number of his Dreamville labelmates appear on the NBA 2K23 soundtrack, there’s been no official confirmation that he assumed the role of executive producer, which has been previously held by the likes of Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, and Travis Scott. However, he is set to show up as a character in the narrative-based MyCAREER mode along with Dreamville’s Bas and Elite, while JID has been touted as one of the artists included on the game’s standard tracklist. The music roster also includes Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, Jack Harlow, and more, with new songs added to online play every Friday.
Cole has long-standing basketball cred from his impressive high school career and a consistent sports aficionado lean in his lyrics. In May 2021, the rapper officially became a professional athlete after he joined the Basketball Africa League in its inaugural season as a member of Rwanda Patriots BBC. Later that year, he was filmed practicing with the NBA’s Orlando Magic during the off-season (the team’s, not his). In May 2022, he signed with the Canadian Elite Basketball League team the Scarborough Shooting Stars and played four games before leaving to fulfill tour obligations. He also made an unforgettable appearance at the 2019 NBA Dunk Contest, when New York Knicks player Dennis Smith Jr. invited him to assist on a trick shot and then nearly landed a dunk himself.
J. Cole will share cover duties with current Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, who tops NBA 2K23’s “Standard Edition,” Michael Jordan on a commemorative self-titled format, and WNBA legends Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird for two individual WNBA sets. The “Dreamer Edition” will be available in the US and Canada only. Pre-orders are ongoing.
Cole’s Dreamville label released the DJ Drama-produced compilation D-Day: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape in March, which featured Consequence Rap Song of the Week “Stick.” He also revived his own North Carolina-based Dreamville Festival after a three-year hiatus, and headlined Lollapalooza in July.
— J. Cole (@JColeNC) September 1, 2022
In a way, #NBA2K23 has been years in making. Talked to @JColeNC for more than 3 years about integrating into MyCAREER and bringing his influence to the personality and sounds of this game. Glad to take the game to a whole new level by introducing his 2K23 cover coming this fall. pic.twitter.com/FID3cUMWck
— Ronnie 2K 2K23 (@Ronnie2K) September 1, 2022