Bryant, who will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, recorded the 16-track album, titled Visions, with a host of all-star support. Artists including Nas, 50 Cent, Beanie Segal, Black Thought, and Destiny’s Child appear on the recording.
Unfortunately, the album’s debut single, K.O.B.E. – featuring model and actress Tyra Banks – did not live up to Columbia Records expectations, and the project was quietly dropped without the entire album being released. This after Bryant released the single on the NBA All-Star Weekend, and performed it live at the game.
Bryant went on to release a handful of other tracks over the years, and appeared on the official remix for Destiny Child’s hit single Say My Name. But music remained a quiet sideline to basketball and other things.
The tracks were released today on Twitter by On Thin Ice, which shared a link to download the album on its Discord account Wednesday. Although On Thin Ice shared a tracklist that lists Nas as a feature on a track titled Thug Poet, the rapper isn’t actually on the song. Instead, it’s a sample of his voice.
LL Cool J shared on the website okayplayer.com a memory of listening to the record with Bryant.
“We talked about rap,” LL Cool J said. “He played me this gangsta rap album and I was like, ‘Kobe, come on dog. That’s not what you need to be doing. He played me that album, we’re sitting in a parking lot. I was confused. I was sitting there like, ‘what are we doing? You got endorsements, what are you doing? It had to be the funniest moment of my life.”
Bryant’s ill-fated foray into rap was inspired by his Lakers teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, who issued several rap albums. O’Neal’s debut Shaq Diesel, was certified platinum for sales of more than one million albums. Marketer Steve Stoute, the head of Sony’s urban music department, tried to duplicate that success with Bryant, but ultimately failed to match Bryant’s personality with the tone of the times.
On Saturday, Bryant will become a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, along with fellow inductees Patrick Baumann, Tamika Catchings, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich. The ceremony will take place at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, Conn.