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In 1998, Kobe was featured on the song "3 Xs Dope" on Shaq's album, "Respect." It was the start of his attempted rap career.

Shaq Featuring Kobe – 3 Xs Dope

In 2013, Grantland wrote extensively about the rap career of Kobe Bryant. Bryant was obviously better known for his talents on the basketball court, but during a period in the late 1990s, rap was also on the Laker’s radar.

For three weeks during the summer of 1998, he lived in New Jersey with Sony Entertainment hip-hop record executive Steve Stoute, who signed Bryant and his group, CHEIZAW, to the label. Kobe spent his time training to be an NBA and rap superstar.

It didn’t end up working out for Bryant in the rap realm. Fortunately, that whole basketball thing sure did turn out positively, though. His teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, pulled off successful careers in both areas, and he included Kobe in his 1998 album, Respect.

Kobe was featured on the song “3 Xs Dope,” the third-to-last song on the 18-track album. He had the song’s opening verse, and hip hop heads can easily hear the influence from RZA, Rakim and Canibus in his bars and flow.

According to the Grantland article, which was written by Thomas Golianopoulos, Kobe wasn’t originally credited with the verse on the album.

“It features female rapper Sonja Blade, who was writing for Shaq at the time, and a third rapper not listed in the credits who kicks off the track. Some say Bryant’s name wasn’t listed for label-clearance reasons (Shaq recorded for A&M). Others say the song was meant to be a surprise. It was recorded in early 1998 in Los Angeles with legendary hip-hop producer Clark Kent. At first Bryant sat quietly while Kent finished composing the song. O’Neal kept the mood light, cracking jokes and talking trash to his little bro.

‘You got to come with your A-game, son. You got to come with your A-game.’

Bryant didn’t back down.

‘Nah, I’m ready, son. I got mines.'”

Sonja Blade was the other artist featured on the track, and in 2013, she told Grantland how rowdy the recording studio got after Kobe laid down his verse. He rushed through his first couple of attempts, but the third one was perfect.

“When he laid that down, the whole studio erupted because it was like, ‘This guy is not playing.’ This was not A-B-C stuff,” Sonja Blade said. “I couldn’t listen to his verse for years.”

After hearing the verse for the first time in 15 years, Sonja Blade had high praise. Clark Kent, on the other hand, found the situation more humorous than anything else.

“Hilarious. It’s just funny because knowing that we was there and he was rapping was hilarious,” Kent said. “He was like this little basketball dude … This was his second year [in the NBA] so he was dumb young. He thought he was a rapper. Oh my God, hilarious. I don’t even want to talk about this anymore.”

But now after the passing of Kobe, perhaps the most interesting, and ominous, piece of the song comes from the hook, which was done by Kent.

“Aiyyo you rap cats better sit back and relax

We getting stacks while the rest of you cats getting attacked

By the fever y’all bad you wanna be with us

Leaving players with 20-20 they ain’t seeing us”

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