It’s been one year since Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi were tragically taken from us and ultimately set the tone for the kind of dreadful year you’d expect to read about in sci-fi horror books.
To honor the memory and legacy of the legendary Kobe Bean Bryant, HipHopWired compiled the ways that the NBA icon connected with the Hip-Hop culture throughout his career. Sure, many a rapper done dropped a Kobe reference or metaphor in their rhyme and paid homage to the Black Mamba, but Kobe himself has demonstrated several times over that Hip-Hop culture was ingrained into his personality.
From attempting to become a rapper to using rap legends in his own commercials, Kobe’s presence and influence on the game, in multiple ways and varying nuances, has been well established since his rookie year and it will only continue to grow in the wake of his unfortunate absence.
Here’s a quick look back at Kobe’s Most Hip-Hop Moments.
Kobe Bryant Took Brandy To His High School Prom
For a minute there it seemed like Kobe and Brandy were going to be an item but alas, it was not meant to be. Why? Who knows but keep in mind this was pre-Mamba Kobe taking the biggest R&B superstar at the time (sorry Monica) to his high school prom. He even ended up guest-starring on an episode of her TV sitcom, Moesha. We can’t remember but did a jealous Fredro Starr offer him the fade during that episode?
Kobe Dabbled As A Rapper Himself
Yes, Kobe tried to rap. Not only did he drop some guest verses on Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me,” but the Black Mamba even did a collaboration with 50 Cent and Nas for “Thug Poet” (nah, seriously, he did). After signing a record deal with Sony, Kobe began working on his debut album and was rumored to have recruited Jay-Z to be his ghostwriter. He then dropped the lackluster Tyra Banks assisted “K.O.B.E.” and basically ended his own career before it even started as Sony decided to shelf the album. Interestingly enough he met his wife, Vanessa Bryant on the set for his music video and the rest is history. Funny how things that don’t work out in life serve sometimes serve a bigger purpose.
Kobe Pays A Visit To The Rucker
The Rucker Tournament used to be arguably the preeminent Pro-Am Basketball summer league in NYC. So of course Kobe Bryant came through and proceeded to show out. In a crispy pair of Air Force 1’s no less.
Kobe’s Nike “Kobe System” Commercial With Kanye West
At the time of the release, Kobe was in his championship prime and Kanye West was ascending to becoming a Hip-Hop legend, so having them come together for a comedic commercial only made sense. Interestingly enough it was Kobe’s philosophy that left Kanye West baffled and saying out loud “What the f*ck are you talking about Kobe Bryant?”
Kobe Stunts On Jalen Rose
On January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant made history when he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors and though Jalen Rose wasn’t the primary defender in the game, he was guilty by association. After calling it a career in 2016, ESPN released a comedic commercial that featured Kobe trolling Rose at a restaurant by asking a waiter for 81 olives in his martini. Classic.
Before sporting the MJ-ish slick baldy, Kobe’s used to rock a well-groomed afro out on the court at a time when everyone was rocking braids, fades, and waves. Sure it never got to Jarrett Allen levels, but it was still pretty dope to see his fro flying in the air whenever he pulled a dynamic dunk. adidas made sure to incorporate in their marketing imagery before he bounced.
Shooting In The Gym
Back in 2012, Kobe was none too pleased when Drake referenced him and Vanessa’s potential split which was avoided when he infamously dropped that line on Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin'” with French Montana. Nevertheless, the line became ubiquitous. But let’s keep it strictly in the archive out of respect.
Kendrick & Kobe
In 2016, Kobe was named “Athlete of the Decade” at Spike TV’s 10th Annual Guys Choice Awards. He was presented with the honor by Kendrick Lamar. A dope moment.
Sneaker Free Agent
Back in the 2002-2003 NBA season, Kobe Bryant was a sneaker free agent and he wore an absolutely filthy collection of player edition kicks from brands like Nike, Jordan, Reebok, adidas, and more. He was would eventually ink with Nike, and they had some of the best looks (i.e. the Air Jordan 3 in Lakers colors) but kicks like the recently retro’d Reebok The Answer in yellow were also fire flames. What a time.