Pinoy rapper’s tribute to Kobe

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2020 - 12:00am

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” – Kobe Bryant

Basketball fans all over the world still have trouble coming to grips with the death of Kobe Bryant. So on what would have been his 42nd birthday on Aug. 23, tributes and commemorations poured out. One rapper decided to help further immortalize the Black Mamba in a uniquely Filipino way.

Third Flo’ of Soulfiesta Management, which handles the likes of Quest, Loonie, Just Hush, Because, Ron Henley, Al James and others, released “Mentalidad ng Mamba” featuring GFAB. The song lionizes the Los Angeles Lakers guard and blends tributes from the NBA with Filipino rap. The rapper reveals how basketball helped him through hard times early in life.

“Being from Tondo, I was raised in a Pinoy family who loved basketball, from the PBA to watching my Dad and brother play ball,” Third Flo’ told The STAR. “My brother was a varsity player at FEU. Here in Tondo, you cannot know how to play basketball because it’s currency in the streets, you had to play in order to show you were down with the people. When we were young, we even had to put a ring on our gate. Pinoys are fond of basketball, it don’t matter if you lived in a big house or not.”

The song begins with a rousing homecourt pre-game introduction of Bryant, listing his accomplishments, followed by the artist’s rapid-fire opening salvo, and a brief insert of Bryant explaining what “Mamba Mentality” means. The rap encapsulates how hard work and courage can lift one up through the harshness of life. Bryant rise to such rare heights: five NBA championships, Olympic gold medals, league scoring champion, Most Valuable Player, multiple All-Star selections. And his first attempt at film production earned him an Oscar award.

“It’s so hard for anyone to come close to what MJ (Michael Jordan) has done in and for basketball, but he came close,” Third Flo’ explains. “As a player, he copied MJ’s game, but he added a three-point shot to his arsenal and the ever so hiphop crossover. He evolved with the game. He is up for the challenge all the time, he doesn’t shy away from the challenge. As a person, we saw him grow up with our very eyes - came to the league at 18 years young, he also was a rapper at one point, had his share of mischievousness and blossomed as a man in our very living room TV. As a retired NBA great, he found another calling in storytelling whether it be books or film. What a storied career he had on court and he was merely starting with a career off the court. Finally, as a father figure and to be surrounded by girls, I think it humbles you. Again he is OUR hiphop version of Michael Jordan and I gravitated to him. Plus, the way he made a name for himself, got the respect of even the older cats and he got enshrined to the Hall of Fame without anyone contesting it.”

Furthermore, the rapper is hoping that Filipino youth heed the lessons from Bryant’s life, lessons which touched and inspired generations of basketball fans for all time. You have to earn your prosperity. It will not be handed to you.

“We should follow our passion because it leads us to our happiness. There is no fun in wishing on a star; you have to climb your way inch by inch to that star that you want. Cause ultimately, he did it for himself, he sought out a goal and it’s to please himself. He was obsessed with winning, so the championships came. He was obsessed with winning, so the injuries came. He wanted to be a better person to be an example, that this is what you get if you put your 101 percent on the line every time.”

Third Flo’ gives the example of that 60-point final game as an indelible reminder. For him, Bryant transcended the game. The numbers didn’t matter. There was only the moment. There was only Kobe Bryant, stepping away from the game he loved on his terms, in a glorious farewell. He respected the game, and did things the right way. Filipinos can apply those values beyond the realm of sport. Mamba out.

“He showed me that with hard work, dedication, strong frame of mind, we can do anything, the right time will come. We have to be prepared and not easily give up. It was not meant to be easy, it was meant to be worth it!  You don’t bring fame and money in the after life, but here we are talking about Kobe’s life and legacy. Also, to not cheat the game, Pinoys have a tendency to get what’s best for them at the moment -- might not be cheating per se, cheating a long line, nepotism, corruption ‘cause he/she can’t wait his turn via the right process. Kobe teaches to out do oneself and not others.”

“Mentalidad ng Mamba” is available on all digital streaming services.

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