Nas, hip-hop’s most influential MC, and popular Texas guitar virtuoso Gary Clark, Jr. are collaborating on the music for ESPN’s three-day presentation of the 2012 NFL Draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 26-28.
A pair of new Nas songs – Train and The Don, from his upcoming Def Jam Recordings album – and Clark’s hit song Bright Lights from the Warner Bros. label will be used coming in and out of commercial breaks and in highlight packages of this year’s NFL Draft prospects. Nas will also add a few lyrics of his own to Bright Lights that embody the vibe of the athlete and rising to the top, in this case, realizing the dream of playing professional football.
ESPN conducted shoots with both Nas (in New York) and Clark (in Austin, Texas) in March. Video of the artists will be used in addition to their music. ESPN is also airing a promo segment on SportsCenter, NFL Live and other shows beginning this week that incorporates Bright Lights.
ESPN has worked with both artists on previous occasions. Nas narrated a powerful feature for the ESPN newsmagazine, E:60, in 2010 that garnered a Sports Emmy about amputees in Liberia who play soccer, and Clark was one of the Warner Bros. artists featured during ESPN and ABC’s 2011 college football coverage.
“The NFL Draft is set in New York in primetime, so we were looking at music that is central to that theme, and both Nas, who is from New York, and Gary Clark Jr. have that feel,” said ESPN music director Kevin Wilson. “When we heard the The Don and Train and proposed the idea of custom lyrics from Nas, we knew those songs were perfect for the Draft. Both The Don and Bright Lights are about New York City and there’s a great line in Gary’s song: ‘you gonna know my name by the end of the night’. That is the essence of the draft. We felt this could be a great collaboration, especially combining artists from different musical styles. Both parties were open to the concept and the music is going to add even more sizzle to our coverage of the event.”
Nas said: “I know this from experience: every rookie has the chance to become a Hall of Famer. It’s why we never miss a game, even a play. Props to the NFL and ESPN for keeping us hooked on professional football all year round. As a fan, I’m happy to be part of it.”
Clark added: “I have mad respect for Nas and the things he’s put out there over the years. I really enjoyed working on this project with ESPN and look forward to seeing the whole thing come together.”
Nas’ first new studio album in four years is scheduled to be released later this year. The Don, the album’s new advance track, premiered earlier this month and is already receiving rave reviews.