Like most toddlers, Matthew Burdette barely had the chance to play 2K in those days at his father’s home in South Central, Los Angeles. His half-brothers often held the reins of the PlayStation, which meant he had to work as a controller for a while.
Burdette, now known by the nickname Blxst, laughs with PEOPLE, “I was trying to fight them for the next place.” “So it’s always been a part of my childhood, always in my memory bank.”
Now things are different. Last week, the 30-year-old Los Angeles musician was announced by 2K Games as the curator of NBA 2K23’s final season 7 soundtrack.
Alongside his own record label, Evgle, Blxst contributed a handful of tracks to the legendary game franchise, taking note of the big names who composed the game’s music before him. He even made the connection through NBA star Damian Lillard, with whom he shared some space on wax before.
“It’s very important to me, especially seeing Jay-Z. You have J. Cole Pharrell. So it’s like I’m following in those footsteps and I see myself as a flavor creator,” she says. I’m in a position to curate and people trust my vision and my taste is great. It’s an assurance for me.”
The soundtrack features some key pieces from Blxst’s own portfolio of music, as well as material from Evgle contractors such as Jay Millian. And while Blxst’s popularity has only soared over the years with their Bino Rideaux collaborative EP six bands in 2019 No Lost Love Even more in 2020 and its debut in 2022 Before you go and his recent work with Kendrick Lamar, Blxst says he takes his greatest pride in bringing his artists to the fore.
“I think for me it’s all about inheritance,” she says. I’m thinking about artists like Dre, and you have to think about all the artists under that tree. There’s Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent. The list goes on and on, and this is what I want to create in Evgle. That’s why it’s my #1 priority to continue to provide opportunities like this to my producers, artists, and everyone around me.”
Blxst didn’t always have the appeal it has now for casting their signatures to the 2K soundtrack. Growing up in Los Angeles, he says he was able to capture “a certain pride we have here” and found himself juggling a range of musical influences. “Sometimes it’s a good and bad thing, but for me, I put all the artists I’ve influenced in the okra bowl and create my own version, my own modern version.”
One of the artists that caught Blxst’s early interest was Creative Tyler, who frequented the skate park in Los Angeles where Blxst also shot. The musician says he would even approach Tyler just to rap for the early Tyler bars of the Myspace era, the man himself.
“I was seeing him all the time, and that was before the world really knew how famous he was. I started being a fan of her on MySpace early. And I would go to him and rap his lines. He said, ‘Do you know that? Oh s—, look. He would call his friends and say, ‘Yo, say that again,’” says Blxst. “So seeing that everything went right in circle, I met him again at DJ Drama’s listening party and told him about that moment. It was like, ‘Big brother, this is fire.
“I don’t know where I got this from because the kid I remember would never have done something like this. I really needed inspiration.
This inspiration has taken Blxst far in 2023. Apart from his own material and the soundtrack to a bestselling video game, Blxst was featured on “Die Hard” from Lamar’s latest Grammy-winning LP. Mr Morale and the Great Steppers The experience was important not only because Blxst remains a huge Top Dog Entertainment fan, but also because it manages to feel “intentional,” he says.
While “Die Hard” remains Blxst’s highest-charting single, hitting the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, the collaboration also earned a nod at the Grammys for best melodic rap performance.
“One thing I took from him is how hands-on he was at every step of the process. He was telling me to sing certain cadences in different ways, and that opened my eyes to how I needed it…even because I did it myself,” says Blxst of Lamar. “But as I have to keep everything under control. Everything is important. You have to maintain the integrity of that artist because that is your vision. This is your story and no one can tell it better than you.”
As for where she is currently creatively, Blxst says she “remains in the trenches” and “motivated” with her own search for new talent and guiding voices.
“I understood this new thing that I was attending underground artists’ shows because I think they are artists who are more connected to the origins of things,” he says.
“They have nothing to lose but to be creative. It’s easy to get used to comfort once you earn some money or travel a bit, and I don’t want to be comfortable. I want to be hungry. I’m here right now. I’m starving.”
It’s easy to get hungry when some wonders come to your shows, too. Talking about his own connections within the NBA, Blxst explains that he has a duty to perform for LeBron James and his family alongside some other superstars like Russell Westbrook at a recent show in Los Angeles.
“Try to channel it, try not to think about greatness in a crowd. But that’s motivation for me too,” says Blxst. “Fuel, it’s like I’m in a playoff game. I will kill him.
For Blxst, now the man behind the 2K23 music, being motivated is what artists and athletes alike have in common, he says.
“I’m thinking of Kobe. [Bryant]It’s like the mamba mentality. Sometimes he made up things in his head that the opponent was his enemy. They can be best friends. They may be cool, but you have to keep your fire high on that pitch,” he says. “This is what I try to add to my music to inspire others.”