LL Cool J Says He Stopped Kobe Bryant From Dropping Gangsta Rap Album
Kershaw St. Jawnson
(AllHipHop News) LL Cool J says that when Kobe Bryant put down the basketball and picked up the mic, out of all the rap music that he could have embraced, he was attracted to gangsta rap.
Yes… you heard it right.
The “Rock the Bells” icon talked to Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier about the time when his friend wanted to be a rap superstar way back in 1999.
Back then, in what seems like a lifetime ago, the NBA newbie signed his first record deal on Trackmasters/Columbia through music mogul turned marketing guru, Steve Stoute.
His single “K.O.B.E.” was released to the world in 2000, and while he put a lot of time and effort into the project, it never came out and he was subsequently dropped.
"We talked about rap," LL told Frazier, "He played me this album, this gangsta rap album and I was like, 'Kobe,' I said, 'Come on dog. That's not what you need to be doing [laughs].' He had a gangster rap album. He played me that album, we're sitting in a parking lot. I was confused, I was sittin' there like, 'What are we doing? You got endorsements, what are you doing?'"
LL Cool J, with his signature smile, reminisced. "It had to be the funniest moment of my life, listening to him do gangster rap."
The "NCIS: Los Angeles" star and Rock The Bells radio station owner also reflected on when Kobe Bryant performed at the 2000 All-Star Game with Tyra Banks.
"Yeah, we're not gonna pretend like we wasn't laughing," LL said. "Like yeah, yeah, yeah the world was laughing, that was not — but you know, he took his shot. He took his shot."
But despite, LL’s memory of Kobe as a mini Ice Cube, others in Hip-Hop remember him as a serious lyricist… applying his Mamba Mentality to learning the art form.
According to Grantland, in 99, he studied under the vets that recorded known lyricists like Nas, 50 Cent and even LL Cool J.
He even brought his Philly group, CHEIZAW, to get put on. Trackmasters put him through the fire and had him battle known spitters, Punchline and Wordsworth, who happened to be songwriters for the production company’s hit making machine.
According to Words, Bryant and his homeboy Broady had to go up against him and Punch.
Kobe lead with “I quantum leap into the future and battle myself.”
Unlike LL’s memory of a gangsta emcee, 24 was on his lyrical miracle s##t. But his boy was not… and he could not go blow-for-blow and round-for-round with the accomplished rappers. And Kobe, a man-child even back then, hated not being prepared and not ready for a clear victory.