I first heard this song from someone who said that he found out about it through a feature spot in 2K Sports’ last-year entry of its basketball video game series, NBA 2K18. Genius even straight-up lists its album as the “NBA 2K18 Soundtrack”. Plenty of reason in my book to consider this a video game song.

NBA 2K18
Cousin Stizz
“Living Like Khaled”

In fact, I believe licensed soundtracks as a whole, even beyond strictly music games—where the majority or at least a significant chunk of the comes from already-existing songs not originally made to accompany the medium—absolutely count in the pantheon of games-related music. Some series like Hotline Miami and the early Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games are inseparably linked to soundtracks in that vein. The radio stations of the Grand Theft Auto series could also be just as potent at introducing people to new music; on that note, shout-out to Soulwax FM!

And devalued though they may be in some corners, the same is just as valid for simulation-style sports games. Actually, the very reality of their annualized nature arguably renders their soundtracks as time capsules that are, if nothing else, interesting for archaeological purposes. Let’s go back nearly fifteen years, and take Madden NFL 2004, for example! I distinctly recall that game being where I first heard Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”, and there is stuff on there like frickin Bone Crusher that is thoroughly, thoroughly 2003.

Chances are, fifteen years from today, people might look at the soundtracks for sports games like NBA 2K18, see songs like “Living Like Khaled” on them, and chuckle at the thought of how 2017 it all is. How this shit was somehow deemed to be the hot shit back then.

Quality is arguable, but it should be evident that this track could have only come this year. To reiterate something from a recent piece in the Loved Trax series, rap beats have gotten really good over the last several years, to the extent that a battalion of mumble rappers are currently slurring or autotuning themselves into oblivion under the guise (justified or not) of aesthetics. Cousin Stizz doesn’t even put in that much effort, just lackadaisically throwing in interjections like “I just bought carrots” for the most part.

Advertisement

It’s as if he really wants to just vibe along with the beat instead of actually turn in a rap performance. And you know what? There’s something about that candid honesty which I cannot help but respect. Frankly, I think I agree with his approach, too; this may be the best rap beat of 2017.

A sparse, molasses-slow rhythm topped by handclaps. Gorgeous synth sparkles that sound like twinkling lightbulbs, plinking out an aimless melody with no interest in resolving itself into any sort of closure. And a whole lot of space where all of those sounds can freely bounce around, uninterrupted by noisy clutter. This thing is on some real nighttime chill-out shit, and is so impeccably magical, I would not dare sully it with my vocals, either!

So yeah, I see no fault in his desire to repeatedly proclaim “BACKWIT-ANUTHUH-WUUUUN” with gusto, especially when it feels so satisfying when joining in myself. Before anyone asks, yes, the singalong potency of “Living Like Khaled” absolutely plays a role in how much I love it, something for which Cousin Stizz deserves credit. He has a good voice that combines with a meaty delivery that is perfect for this kind of song. Additionally, even though his flow isn’t fast, props are also due for a second verse that is mostly a breathless string of syllables.

Advertisement

RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.