Kobe Bryant and hip hop: A lasting effect


Kyle Atkinson

As you know by now, the world lost a superstar athlete and person on January 26th, 2020. Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter accident along with 8 others. Among those lost include Bryant’s daughter Gianna, Gianna’s teammate and her family, as well as Bryant family friends. This is one of the most impactful celebrity deaths that we’ve faced in years, so it’s only right to devote some words to celebrate the lives that were ripped away.

Kobe Bryant and hip hop

In case you were unfamiliar, Bryant was actually a very important figure in the hip hop music scene. He dabbled in music in the late 90s and early 00s, working with various artists and his Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal. He was even signed to a major hip hop label at one point. That didn’t work out and ultimately his music phase as a whole didn’t, but he still left us with some good moments on that front.  Bryant’s music wasn’t the most well-received out there, but it is still memorable in its own way.

Perhaps bigger than his own music, Bryant can be felt in many songs created by hip hop artists. You’ve probably heard his name in quite a few songs if you’re a big hip hop fan. Here are a few of the instances of him being mentioned in the hip hop world.

“Kobe Bryant”Lil Wayne

There was no possible way that I could leave this track out. Lil Wayne created it in the midst of one of LA’s title runs way back in 2009. Kobe was one of Wayne’s favorite players so I think this track will live on for a long time. 

“The Heart Pt. 2”Kendrick Lamar

On one of his earliest mixtapes, Kendrick Lamar dropped a sick bar about one of LA’s GOATs. Here’s the lyric:

  • “And this is Comp-ton, lions in the land of the triumph/Wrap-Saran our defiance, ban our alliance/Put burners in the hands of the black man/One hood with 20 four-fours like a cloned Kobe Bryant”

I love Dot’s delivery on this part of the song because you can feel his passion in every word. Here’s an explanation of the Kobe reference courtesy of a genius.com user. 

“Errday”Wiz Khalifa ft. Juicy J

This is probably one of the most memorable Kobe Bryant references in hip hop currently. Juicy J spits these dope bars all while stuntin’ about his rich and famous neighbor Kobe Bryant:

  • “My mansion sitting on forty acres — who the neighbors? (whoooooo)/Kobe Bryant from the Lakers…now that’s paper (let’s get it)”

Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list of Bryant references in hip hop, but a few great examples. If you want to hear Kobe Byrant mentioned in more songs, follow this link. More new ones are sure to pop up now after his unfortunate passing, so keep an ear out for those.   

My memories of Kobe Bryant

Aside from Kobe’s presence in the hip hop world, he had a big presence in my life. For some context, I’m a huge basketball fan and I’ve watched the Utah Jazz for as long as I can remember. The Kobe Bryant-lead Lakers and Jazz rivalry that lasted from the early 2000s until the mid 2010s is something that will always stick with me. There were so many classic regular season and playoff games that went down between the two squads. Those games made me “hate” the Lakers, and Bryant by association, with a strong passion because they nearly always beat us. But as I got older, I learned to really respect the greatness that I was watching 4+ times a season. 

Kobe Bryant was much more than just a basketball player. He was the face of a generation for those that grew up with the sport and loved it because of him. He’s the name you hear in school when shooting garbage into the trash can. He’s the isolation moves that you see on basketball courts everywhere. Kobe is everything.

Even after retirement, Kobe continued to be a legend in everything that he did. He was really embracing his fatherhood by coaching his kids. It was a beautiful thing and I hate to think that we won’t get to see it anymore. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why these things happen to anyone, let alone people that don’t deserve it in the slightest. It simply isn’t fair that Bryant gave more than 20 years of his life to a game only to have it tragically taken from him not even 5 years later. 


Rest in peace Kobe Bryant and thank you for everything that you did in your time on Earth. Your life touched many areas including basketball, music, film, tourism, and much more. You will be remembered and loved by millions for a long time.

K-UTE Radio/University of Utah does not own any images in this piece.