It may surprise you to know that Idris Elba has musical collaborations with Taylor Swift, Wiley and Paul McCartney under his belt, and now we can add to that his contributions to Phantom Liberty: a 3 track EP (The Phantom Files) and full DJ set. Elba’s acting career may overshadow his musical output, but he does have an extensive back catalogue of songs as well as a seriously impressive list of collaborators.
Driving around the streets of Night City, flicking between the radio stations and experiencing the electric range of dystopian tunes is crucial to my immersion, so three brand new stations is more than welcome. The three new Elba tracks are split across two of the three new stations. 99.9 Impulse contains one of the originals, Walk of Shame—a four to the floor club song with a tasty drop and vocal samples—and the rest of the station is “basically his DJ set put together from unreleased tracks” as senior composer P.T. Adamczyk put it during this Night City Wire. The other two tracks—Choke Hold and Rolla Coaster— appear on 107.5 Dark Star and are both hip-hop songs with some differences in style between them. Choke Hold has big 808’s, and some UK trap influences whereas Rolla Coaster follows a pulsating bassline with mumble rap tones running throughout.
When talking about working with artists, Adamczyk explains that they provided guidance but wanted the musicians to have “free rein”. “We want them to be great and to give us tracks that they love and the community will love. We don’t want to be micro managerial when it comes down to people creating music.” He goes on to explain that with Elba and the other artists “it was, here’s the brief, it has to fit into the Cyberpunk world context that we created and that’s pretty much it”. Though the Elba tracks are quite different to each other they do deliver the Cyberpunk vibe with their metallic reverbs, gritty synths, and static effects.
This isn’t even the first time that Elba’s had music featured in a video game. The FaNaTiX song Vroom from Gran Turismo 7 was a collaboration with Elba and others, and is actually one of his biggest successes on Spotify with almost twenty million plays. So getting involved with the music in Cyberpunk makes a lot of sense.