The sudden and tragic death of Kobe Bryant on Jan. 26 sent shockwaves throughout the sports world and beyond. Bryant was one of the NBA’s greatest stars, winning five championships and scoring more than 30,000 points during his 20-season career. He retired in 2016 and was just starting to settle into the next phase in his life when he died in a helicopter crash.
As the world mourns the loss, fans have been looking back at Bryant’s life and career. Although many conversations are centered around his legacy on the court, Bryant also left behind a collection of music.
Let’s talk about his brief music career and other celebrities who dabbled in the industry.
A look back at Kobe Bryant’s short-lived music career
According to Grantland, Bryant began rapping in high school. He went on to form a rap group with a few friends called CHEIZAW, which was named after the kung fu movie The Kid With the Golden Arm (1979). But Bryant’s basketball career wound up taking off and he got drafted in 1996.
In 1998, CHEIZAW inked a deal with Sony Entertainment. But the ultimate goal was to make Bryant a solo artist. He started recording music on his own and later made appearances on a remix to Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me” and Destiny’s Child’s “No, No, No.” He also released a poorly-received song called “K.O.B.E.” featuring Tyra Banks in 2000.
Eventually, Bryant began sparring with the label over his preference to record lyrical rap records instead of pop. His debut album, Visions, was scheduled for a 2000 release but it got shelved and Bryant was ultimately dropped from Sony.
Shortly after, Bryant started his own label, Heads High Entertainment, but it shuttered after a year. At that point, Bryant moved on from music and shifted his focus to his basketball career.
Kim Kardashian West recorded one song
In 2011, Kim Kardashian West teamed up with singer and songwriter The Dream for a song. The pair recorded a pop track called “Jam (Turn It Up),” which was panned by critics.
“She sounds like she was jogging when she recorded this, and was unable to catch up to the beat,” said a writer for Billboard.
Another writer for The New York Daily News called it “a dead-brained piece of generic dance music.”
Even so, Kardashian West has no regrets. She said in a 2019 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen that it was a “fun thing to do.” She also noted that it was for a good cause, as the proceeds went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Eddie Murphy is more than an actor and comedian
Eddie Murphy is, of course, known for his movies and stand-ups. But did you know he’s also a singer?
He had two hit records in the 1980s — “Party All the Time” and “Put Your Mouth on Me” — and has released three albums to date. After his third album, Love’s Alright (1993) underperformed, Murphy seemed to retire from the music scene. But in 2015, Murphy returned with the reggae song “Oh Jah Jah,” which made it on to the Billboard charts.
Robert Downey Jr. has been in the booth
Long before he took on his famous role as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. was a singer. He’s worked with Elton John and made appearances on many soundtracks for his films, including 1997’s Two Girls and a Guy and 1999’s Friends and Lovers.
In 2004, Downey dropped his first album, The Futurist, which earned fair reviews and sold a few thousand copies. As of writing, it’s his most recent full-length release.
It’s unclear whether Downey will ever release more music. But he seemingly has lots of time after Avengers: Endgame.
Naomi Campbell has done more than modeling
Naomi Campbell has an iconic modeling career. Unfortunately, she couldn’t replicate the same success when it came to her musical endeavors.
In 1994, Campbell released an album, Baby Woman, which received mixed reviews and only spawned one hit song, “Love and Tears.” While it saw some success in Japan, it was a disappointment in the United Kingdom and quickly disappeared from memory.
Campbell never released another full-length project after that. But considering she’s one of the most successful models in the world, it’s not like she really needed to.
Tyra Banks has tried to branch out, too
After making a name for herself as a model in the 1990s, Tyra Banks continued to expand her career. Entertainment Weekly reports that she tried her hand at singing between 1998 and 2004. But she didn’t receive the response she might have been hoping for.
Her 2004 debut single, “Shake Ya Body,” received overwhelmingly negative reviews and little radio play. It was her first and last musical release.
In a 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Banks said she came to realize music was not her “calling” and that she had tried to force something that was clearly not meant for her.
But luckily, she and all the other stars on the list were able to find success in other fields.
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