The following article was first published on November 30, 2015, in reflection of Kobe Bryant's 20-year-long career, shortly after he first announced his retirement from the NBA. That year, we had the honor of interviewing Bryant for Highsnobiety Magazine and now we're making the photographs from our shoot available for you to own. All profits will be donated to Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation and you can shop the selection here.
With a tier of post-Michael Jordan athlete superstardom only paralleled by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, who had five N.B.A. titles, two Olympic gold medals and 17 All-Star team appearances under his belt — and not to mention starred on the cover of Highsnobiety Magazine's 10th issue — became an emblem for success, vigor and fame over his 20-year NBA career.
While his almost alien-level of talent garnered him a spot as one of the most storied basketball legends in history, Kobe also managed to pique the interests of emcees all across the board. Whether being used to discuss making money, killing the game or being an all-around boss, KB's name has been dropped by everyone from Kanye to Jay-Z to Lil Wayne.
In his honor, we've gathered up some of the greatest moments in hip-hop when Kobe's name was commemorated in a verse. So slam dunk one for KB and check out 16 of hip-hop's best references to #24.
Lil Wayne - "Kobe Bryant" (2009)
Notable Line: "MVP, MVP, Kobe Bryant AKA Envy Me, In knee-deep, smash any D, Whoever he is, he can't guard me."
Chief Keef - "Kobe" (2012)
Notable Line: "Hundred thousand in one pocket, I get paid like I'm Kobe/When these fuck boys play games, man I just play like I'm Kobe."
Kendrick Lamar - "The Heart Part 2" (2010)
Notable Line: "One hood with 20 four-four's like a cloned Kobe Bryant."
M.I.A. - “Bad Girls (N.A.R.S. Remix)” Feat. Missy Elliot & Azealia Banks (2012)
Notable Line: "He ain't stylin' enough to be ballin'/Kobe Bryant, Odom, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce." (Azealia Banks)
Rick Ross - "Stay Schemin'" feat. Drake & French Montana (2012)
Notable Line: "Kobe ’bout to lose a hundred fifty M’s, Kobe my nigga, I hate it had to be him, Bitch you wasn’t with me shooting in the gym." (Drake)
Kanye West - "See Me Now" Feat. Beyoncé, Big Sean & Charlie Wilson (2010)
Notable Line: "They say G.O.O.D. Music like the new Miami Heat, Shit comparin' them to us, man, they gotta add Kobe." (Big Sean)
The Game - "Remedy" (2006)
Notable Line: "I'm hard as a mothafuckin' ounce of raw, Dribble rock like Kobe Bryant bounce the ball."
JAY-Z - "Some People Hate" (2002)
Notable Line: "With a splash of Monster Kody, Shoot faster than Kobe."
Lil B - "The Best" (2010)
Notable Line: "Came up didn't think I'd pass shit, underrated slam dunk, nigga never passed it, Come around my way boy, you'd never last it, Kobe Bryant of the rap game, nigga never pass it."
Beyoncé - "Ego (Remix)" feat. Kanye West (2009)
Notable Line: "I had dreams of the league, one day I’d play Kobe, Or walk up to Puff and he would really know me." (Kanye West)
Juicy J - "Who Da Neighbors" (2011)
Notable Line: "My mansion sittin' on 40 acres, Who da neighbors? Kobe Bryant from the Lakers, Now that's paper."
TI - "Swagger Like Us" feat. Kanye West, Jay Z & Lil Wayne (2008)
Notable Line: "Tryna get that Kobe number, one over Jordan." (Kanye West)
Lil Wayne - "Young Playa" (1999)
Notable Line: "I might be in a Lex watching the game tonight, I got a hundred on Kobe, hope he playing it right."
Ghostface Killah - "Back Like That" feat. Kanye West & Ne-Yo (2006)
Notable Line: "We hit the spot to chill with the Fuji Grill, She ordered the Kobe beef like Shaquille O’Neal." (Kanye West)
Lil Wayne - "Dough Is What I Got" (2007)
Notable Line: "And when it comes down to the recording/I must be LeBron James if he's Jordan/No, I won rings for my performance/I'm more Kobe Bryant of an artist."
Cassie - "Numb" ft. Rick Ross (2013)
Notable Line: "I'm tryin' to see a hundred of 'em, Kobe Bryant money, nigga you ain't gotta love him." (Rick Ross)