Pharrell Williams may be known for his runaway viral video hit “Happy”, but he also happens to be curating the soundtrack for the latest NBA video game, NBA 2K15.
So what happens a few days after it was announced Williams had the job? He received an audition by the man Billboard described as “the artist responsible for a string of major-label albums during the 1990s (who also had a basketball career on the side)”, Shaquille O’Neal himself.
Now, almost a week later, O’Neal keeps getting cheers and boos. Who knows if Williams saw the audition, but 135,042 people on YouTube did.
What are the critics saying about O’Neal’s approach? Many, like Colin Joyce of Spin, are a little skeptical, calling O’Neal’s freestyle verse “warbling answering machine lines”. “You don’t get the sense that he’ll be challenging the likes of Future and YG for the best rap album of the year,” Joyce wrote.
Others, like Carl Lamarre of XXL Magazine, were much kinder. “His time may come,” Lamarre wrote, “It’s apparent that Shaq still has his flow from ‘Can’t Stop The Reign’.”
With the widespread viral nature of the audition, it may be hard for Williams and the game makers to say no to O’Neal. Dan Carson of the Bleacher Report had an idea for them to consider. “Allow the man to lay down a track, but add a caveat: He has to clown on the rest of the biggest names in the game,” he wrote, “Make it an unlockable bonus song—or better yet, a music video.”
As for Williams, he has a big job ahead of him, but also a rewarding one. “I’m tripping out that we get to put this music out,” he told Billboard about the process, “This never happens — the system is never like that, where you look up and go ‘Wow, we just pulled that off.’ I’m pumped and excited.”
Image via NBA 2K, YouTube