Kobe Bryant’s unlikely but everlasting impact on hip-hop

Kobe Bryant has been name-dropped over 450 times in hip-hop music, showing the his impact on a substantial community. / The Wall Street Journal

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, the world lost a global icon, Kobe Bryant. Bryant, along with eight others including his 13 year-old daughter Gianna, tragically died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

Aside from being a legendary professional basketball player, Bryant was most known for having a stellar work ethic that inspired everyone, not just athletes. 

The hip-hop community in particular was devastated by the news as many of today’s rappers grew up watching Bryant and were partially inspired by him. Since he passed, there has been an enormous amount of support and tributes from rappers everywhere. Almost any rapper you can think of posted some kind of touching message on social media for Bryant or honored him in some way.

Most notably, Lil Wayne added a 24 second moment of silence for Bryant on his recent album “Funeral” representing the number he wore in the second half of his career. Also, Kanye West held a special midnight Sunday Service where he, Chance the Rapper, gospel singer Kirk Franklin and others sang in prayer for Bryant and his family. 

Hip-hop adored Bryant, maybe even more than MJ and that’s saying a lot. Playing in Los Angeles his entire career helped develop certain relationships with some of the biggest celebrities in the rap game including Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, both of whom are huge Kobe Bryant fans.

Wayne actually made a whole song titled “Kobe Bryant” which highlights his excellence and drive. According to Vibe.com, Kobe Bryant is mentioned in over 500 songs with 90% of them being hip-hop. Some of the rappers to name-drop Kobe include Drake, Kanye West, J cole, Kendrick Lamar, the late Juice WRLD, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and so many others. 

Hip-hop and basketball have always had a love for each other which is rooted by the industries sharing a lot of the same fans. While Bryant was one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA, that’s not what made rappers want to mention him in their lyrics. Bryant’s “mamba mentality” is about having an intense work ethic and being committed to your goals without excuses. It’s also about having that “killer instinct” which in basketball means wanting to be the guy to take the shot with the game on the line.

Outside of the basketball world this means not being afraid to go after your goal or “take your shot”. For some people this might be just as simple as speaking your mind when you feel intimidated or making changes in your life you feel are important. Bryant wanted everyone to take these principles and live by them regardless of what situation you’re in or what goal you’re going after at the time. His legend status was earned from this mentality.

The day of the crash felt like the entire world stopped what they were doing to mourn the loss. Just hours after the devastating news shook the music world, the Grammy Awards were coincidently held at his former home arena, The Staples Center, where he was honored multiple times.

People from all walks of life appreciate what he did for the world and it seems as though his core values will carry on through his family, friends, fans and admirers. Kobe Bryant was special and will be missed dearly in both sports and music. 

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