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From 50 Cent Collab to Destiny Child’s Exposure, Know Why Kobe Bryant’s Rap Career Never Took off

Published 09/20/2023, 10:35 AM EDT

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Kobe Bryant, the iconic Lakers legend, left a lasting impression on the courts and the silver screen. Five-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold medallist, and 18 All-Star title winner, he wrote himself into the record books of all-time basketball history. In 2008, the basketball legend added an Oscar to his mantle for his autobiographical short film, “Dear Basketball,” but what many might not know is that the NBA icon also dabbled in music as a rapper almost two decades prior.

But why would basketball legend Kobe Bryant enter the rap game in the first place? This piece explores the fascinating story of Kobe’s rap career, from his pairing with major artists such as 50 Cent and Destiny’s Child to why his musical dreams never soared.

Kobe Bryant’s Hip-Hop quest

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The Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant’s love for hip-hop ran deep throughout his entire life, and yet his rap career never reached the same level as his success on the basketball court. As a kid, Kobe, fueled by an affinity for the genre, would hold cyphers with his classmates. Even experimented with creating pen tap percussion for their rhyming. But the guy who really showed him how to rap was his buddy Kevin Sanchez, aka Sandman.

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High school also saw the formation of a rap group, by Kobe and his buddies, called She Saw (which it embarrassed them to tell people about, for obvious reasons). Together, the boys played shows and rhymed anytime they could, passion driving their collective will.

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Kobe’s twin pursuits presented a problem, but… In the meantime, he was making a name for himself among the hip-hop circles and entered the NBA in 1996 as a highly talented player. Meanwhile, in the rap world, Sandman, another friend of his and a fellow rapper, became the subject of a wrongful arrest for armed robbery.

Read More: Drawing Inspiration From Disrespect in Sacramento, Kobe Bryant Once Recalled Having the Last Laugh in 4 Year Long Challenge

Luck had it that his rapping skills caught the ears of label executives that evening. Sony Records, the remainder of the group, in 1999, anticipated Kobe could conquer both the basketball and the rap world.

Destiny’s Child Exposure and Beyond

With Kobe taking to the mic, more collabs came out of left field, stirring even more intrigue within music circles. One of the most unlikely pairings was his appearance on Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name” which bridged his basketball success to the world of music.

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While these collaborations got attention, they didn’t push Kobe’s rap career to the levels he had imagined.

So, why didn’t Kobe’s rap career take off how was planned? His love of hip-hop went back to his college days when he freestyle and even formed a group called “She Saw” with his friends. Yet, his enthusiasm could not prevent the group trip from being eclipsed by the meteoric Kobe Bryant in the NBA.

Even though record executives saw his potential when he did a studio session, the attention on him being both a basketball and rap star was just too much.

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Watch This Story: 17 Months After Unveiling “Proudly” Collaboration, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union’s Adorable Campaign Leaves Fans in Awe: “Man I Love Y’all”

Ultimately, Kobe Bryant’s rap career was a fascinating footnote in the many-layered story of his life, evidence of an unwavering drive that animated everything he did.

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Written by:

Abhinav Tomar

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Abhinav Singh Tomar is an NBA author at EssentiallySports. He translates his love for the game into captivating coverage. A true hoop enthusiast and a fan of all sports, he brings the court to life with his insightful writing skills.
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Edited by:

Yeswanth Praveen