Michael B. Jordan is Sprite Films 2014 celebrity mentor. Michael B. Jordan is Sprite Films 2014 celebrity mentor.

Interview: Michael B. Jordan Talks Sprite Films Program & Upcoming Role in 'Fantastic Four'

When Michael B. Jordan got the request to be this year’s Sprite Films celebrity mentor, a transition took place for the young actor. After soaking up advice from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Matthew McConaughey, Jordan has imparted some of the industry’s most important lessons onto the program’s six finalists, who have been tasked with putting together short films for the brand, and are now competing for the chance to see their work run in select movie theaters across the country. And as he gears up to play The Human Torch in Marvel’s upcoming Fantastic Four film, Jordan is ready to showcase just how much he’s learned. -- Iyana Robertson

Hey Michael, how are you?
I’m doing well, doing good.

You’re doing all these interviews, so I just wanted to take a second to ask how you’re doing.
[Laughs] I’m doing good. Just traveling, man. I have nothing to complain about. I’m excited right now, getting ready to go work on another production. I’m getting back to doing the things I love to do, which is acting, being on set and stuff. So I’m really excited right now. This is fun.

Very cool. So let’s talk about your Sprite Films gig that you’re into right now. You’re mentoring screenwriters and directors. How has being an actor - being on the other side of the camera - been an asset to you giving the students advice?
I mean, it was a little weird at first. I was like ‘Wow, this is crazy, they want me to mentor somebody?’ Like, I’m still learning so much. And they were like ‘No, no, no, you’ve been doing this for 15 years, you have experience and insight. You can give these directors a lot of information. And I was like ‘Cool, why not?’ It’s always weird when you make that transition from --

Student to teacher?
Yeah, not a student, but you’re used to being a young actor, and then looking at yourself and being like ‘Wow, I’m giving somebody else advice in following their dreams?’ So that was a cool transition. But Sprite Films, they set up such an incredible program for these filmmakers to win. I think competition is one of the greatest forms of motivation and encouragement, when you give these students the opportunity to develop these 50-second scripts into short films, and you give them an incentive. You do the best short film that you can do -- and your film will be seen by ‘x, y, z,’ it’s going to get a chance to be put in select theaters throughout the country, and we’ll give you a cash prize towards your university’s film department, and a trip to AFI -which is a huge deal for filmmakers. You put all that stuff together, and you see the cream of the crop kind of rise to the top. And that’s what they did with these six finalists.

I checked out the films online and I couldn’t pick a favorite. How hard was it for you to have to pick a winner?
That’s crazy, because for me, I’m a tough critic. So it wasn’t that hard for me. I’m very decisive when it comes to films, things that I like and don’t like, quality, you know. It wasn’t that hard for me. There was a few that I liked that stood out from the rest, but as far as my pick, I made my pick.

Wow, you’re cutthroat over there. [laughs]
I am cutthroat! I am surgical when it comes to it! [laughs] No, they all did a great job, don’t get me wrong, they all did a great job; it was the cream of the crop. But for me, the ones that kind of spoke to me, that kind of stood out was like ‘Okay, boom, this is the one for me.’ But yeah, they did an incredible job. Old, young, post-grad, it was a mixed bunch. They did a really good job with it.

Was there any specific instance where you saw yourself in one of these finalists?
I saw a little bit of myself in everybody, honestly. They’re so ambitious. They’re very, very ambitious. Some are very soft-spoken. Because I was talking to producers and directors, you have a lot of different personalities. Some producer’s personality might’ve been bigger than a director’s. Or a director’s personality that might be so huge and so talkative. You could kind of see in talking to them, the different styles. After watching the films then talking to them, you could see who directed what. You could kind of match them up with their projects a little bit. A couple of wild cards that you didn’t expect, but for the most part, you can kind of put them next to their project like, ‘Alright, your personality definitely comes through.’ And that’s important, to have a decisive voice, to be unique to your personality, because a little bit of you is going to come through your work. Or a lot of you is going to come through your work. So you can take that as a compliment.

What advice did you have to offer that you wished somebody would’ve said to you a while back?
I wanted to talk them and really find out what they needed. What did they really care about? What did they want, you know? And then try to answer based on the questions they asked me and give them answers and advice around that. So honestly, they really cared about [questions like] ‘How do I become a better director,’ ‘How do I improve my relationship with the actor,’ ‘How do I improve my relationship with my cast and crew.’ And I think being collaborative, honestly, is such a running thing. [People are] not as collaborative. There’s a lot of egos out there. So when you find moments, and you find directors that don’t have an ego, that are willing to collaborate with their crew and their cast and not make people feel like ‘You do your job, and that’s it,’ to give them a stake in the entire project, they want to feel like they’re involved. When you can find moments like that as a director, I feel like it’s very important. And also I’m giving them a lot of my opinions from an actor’s perspective and more-or-less as a new producer as well, because I’m starting to produce a lot more. So it was a mixture of both, just trying to give them a little insight inside the actor’s brain, which could be a complicated place to be.

You have mentors like Oprah and Matthew McConaughey. Did you relay any of the messages they gave you onto the finalists?
Yeah, man. Something Matthew told me; I was trying to figure out some roles, I had a couple of choices between roles. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and I was a little fearful. And he was like ‘Man, that’s a great fear. You have to be scared. You have to be fearful.’ He said, ‘What you have to do is, you have to figure out what type of fear it is.’ Is it healthy fear? Is it fear that’s going to going to be able to motivate you and elevate your level of acting? Or is it a fear that people aren’t putting you in a position to win, they’re not putting the right pieces around you for you to be successful? That’s the negative fear, that’s the fear that you don’t want to be a part of. So I was just kind of letting them know that you can be fearful, you can be scared, you can be uncertain, but you gotta figure out where it’s coming from. And then kind of use that to gage the projects that you do, the types of risks that you take moving forward on certain projects. Because you’re always going to be rolling dice. There’s always going to be a risk, there’s always going to be a gamble; there’s no sure thing.

Dope. So you said Matthew Mcconaughey talked to you about the fear of your next move, and you next move is kind of huge with Fantastic Four. What was your level of geekage when you got that call?
I mean, it’s crazy how it kind of came about because you know, the writer/director Josh Trank, I did Chronicle with him back in 2011. We’ve become really good friends since then. We know what we’re doing and stuff like that. So he kind of approached me a long time ago, maybe a year and some change ago, about the project. I was like ‘Oh shit. Man, that is ridic-- really? You want me to play that guy? Okay, cool.’ It was just us two guys, two fanboys, just geeking out over the possibilities, or how it’s going to be, and what we should do here, what we should do there, and the ideas we had for it. It just like two best friends just sitting there talking about our next science project. It was a lot of fun, a lot of excitement. I was excited. I was geeked.

So the film has already been done, and now you guys are going at it again. How do you plan on making the Human Torch role your own?
Honestly, if anything, just doing my homework. It’s been done before, there are certain characteristics that people look for in the Human Torch that makes him unique. You gotta respect the past a little bit, and you also gotta respect the present and the future and give your own take. You can’t be an imitation of anything. Imitation isn’t the way to go. So you just gotta understand the world that you’re in, the person that you’re playing, and then you just give your take. That’s the way I’ve been living my life [laughs]. That’s the way I’ve been living my career, so we’ll see how it turns out this time.

You’ve had a little experience with action with Chronicle and Red Tails. Have those two roles prepared you at all, or is this totally different?
I think this is the biggest world that I’ve been in, the Marvel world. Biggest budget, I believe. I’m just getting in shape, you know. I’ve watched all these comic book films, and Marvel films growing up over the years, so you kind of get an idea of the world that you’re playing in. I mean, honestly, there’s not that much to talk about, you just gotta go do it [laughs]. It’s just one of those things where it’s a project I’ve been waiting to do for a long time. I’m past excited already. The anxiousness is gone already. Now it’s just ‘lets do it.’ There’s literally nothing else for me to say.

Cool. So I’m going to put you on the spot right now. Top five Marvel characters. Go.
Aww man, you are bold. Um, top five? You gotta put Wolverine up there.

Okay.
Now, are you talking about in movies, or are you talking about in comic books?

Comic books.
Alright, you gotta put Wolverine up there. Um, you gotta put Bishop up there for me, personally. Um --

I knew this would be hard [laughs]
Uh, let’s see. Man, this is -- I mean, I’ve always been a fan of Colossus. This is all personal. These are just personally characters that I just love. Colossus is someone that that I’ve always loved. You got Spider-Man. You got uh --

You got one more!
I’m going with Black Panther. Is that good?

Yep, we’re good [laughs]. I’m going to switch gears just a little bit. You lent your voice to The Boondocks season premiere. Did that script crack you up?
You know what cracked me up was -- we have directors in the animated world, just like anything else -- so to have this older white lady say, ‘On my abs, nigga! On my abs!’ [laughs]. To have a old white lady tell me that shit was probably the funniest shit I’ve ever heard in my life. And she’s in it, she does it all the time, but for me as a guest on it, to hear her say ‘nigga’ a hundred times, in a hundred different ways [laughs], was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It was great experience. I was actually shooting Fruitvale Station when I recorded Flizzy’s voice. And I wasn’t exactly sure when it was going to come out, and I got wind of it. It was so funny, man. I loved it. Hopefully I’ll be able to come back and Flizzy will be back.

If Flizzy was a recurring character, I’d have no problem with that.
Did you like it?

Yeah [laughs] it was funny. But I did think that the Chris Brown thing was a little dated though.
Yeah, well we did that such a long time ago, so yeah I get it. A lot of the stuff that we kind of hit was exaggeration of the music industry and we just kind of pumped the fun out of a lot of things. But I love that people don’t take things so seriously anymore, you know? Just kind of laughed at the jokes.

Last question: what music are you bumping heavy right now?
J. Cole, honestly. I’ve been bumping a lot of his stuff, Born Sinner, waiting for his new album to come out. I’ve been listening to that a lot lately. And YG. I’ve been listening to YG’s album too. But yeah, Cole is a buddy of mine, and he’s extremely talented. Not a lot of artists nowadays are speaking about things that I can really relate to, you know? And his point of view on his music is something that I can always listen to.

Voting is open for the Sprite Films contestants until May 15. Check out the short flicks and choose your favorite here.

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Kobe Bryant sits alone on the bench before a basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center on Sunday, April 4, 2010 in Los Angeles.
Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG

Where Have You Gone, Kobe Bean Bryant?

I am in shock and I am traumatized. Any death hurts you, if you have any sense of humanity, and especially if it is not expected, out of the blue, and clocks you with a ferocious uppercut, between the eyes, in such a way that the tempo of your day, month, year, is completely concussed, knowing that you will never—never—forget this particular passing of a life. It was the Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. who said, like the prophet he was, “Sometimes I hear death knockin’ at my front door.” It was the English poet John Donne who said, like the church cleric he was, “death diminishes me...therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Well, as we used to say in hip-hop, let the poppers pop and let the breakers break and, my Lord, let the grievers swoon and let the choirs sing sad spirituals because the bell is tolling for Kobe Bean Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the seven other passengers aboard the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California, into hilly, rough terrain, after trying to steer its way through a syrupy fog on a West Coast Sunday morning. When I awoke home in New York, I did what I normally do: I scanned both my cell phone and my laptop for news of the day. It was amazing to see that LeBron James had just passed Kobe to become the third-highest scorer in the history of the National Basketball Association—after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at number one and Karl Malone at number two. It was doubly amazing to note that the top four scorers in NBA history had all played, at some point, with the Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe’s the longest tenure, at 20 years, from his debut in 1996 to his retirement in 2016. I next read Kobe Bryant’s tweet congratulating LBJ publicly for surpassing him. Little did I know, little did any of us know, that that would be his last tweet ever. I assumed it would be just another mundane Sunday until the evening when I was set to watch Lizzo and Billie Eilish and others at the Grammys.

But then I got an urgent text from a trusted friend and fellow journalist, asking me if I had heard about Kobe. I gasped; I was speechless; the tears came, and I wanted to shove them back into my eye sockets. I did not dare believe Kobe Bryant, born on August 23, 1978, was dead, at the still tender age of 41. My first social media post could not utter the words; I simply said I had heard distressing news about him. Then I texted back and forth with several others, hoping, praying, for some sort of miracle. It is not that I am celebrity-obsessed. I am not. But the reality is that stars, be they entertainers or athletes or politicians or “The Royals,” take up space in our collective mental, in our collective soul—if they are around long enough—like blood relatives, like a father, a mother, a sister, a brother, an uncle, an aunt, a cousin. They become parts of us, and we are a part of them. Be they James Dean or Marilyn Monroe or Dr. King or John Lennon or Natalie Wood or Princess Diana or Aaliyah or Amy Winehouse or Kobe Bean Bryant, when they go, pieces of us go with them. We rise and fall with them, we laugh and cry with them, we win and lose with them. So when a person with the level of global recognition of a Kobe Bryant dies and dies so tragically, we feel as if we have lost a beloved family member. We are immediately in mourning, as everything about us has faded to black, as black as the lethal Black Mamba snake Kobe channeled as his alter-ego on the court. We are there at the funeral or memorial service, a-hootin' and a-hollerin’, as parts of our being attempt to climb into the coffin, the way Kobe climbed into the heads and over the outstretched hands of helpless opponents. We double over in pain as our bodies slump to the floor, the way Kobe’s did when he shredded his Achilles near the end of his career.

And what a career it was. I first learned of Kobe Bryant when he was a high school phenomenon in a suburb of Philadelphia in 1995, 1996. I learned that his father was former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, a journeyman athlete who once played with the legendary Dr. J and the Philadelphia 76ers in the mid-1970s. I learned that Joe never became a star player, so he bounced around a lot, in Philly, where Kobe was born, to places like Italy, where the only boy of three Bryant children would pick up Italian and other languages along the way. I learned that he was named after the famous beef in Kobe, Japan, and his middle name, a cosmic chopping of his Dad’s nickname. I learned that Kobe worshipped NBA superstar Michael Jordan, who was then in the middle of his six championships with the Chicago Bulls. Indeed, Kobe fanned out on MJ so much that he would stick out his tongue in a similar manner when going for a shot, and also wore a wrist band high up on a bicep just like Mike, too.

It was hard to say what Kobe Bryant would become in those first years, particularly since he was only 17 and straight outta high school when drafted. Kobe took soul-pop princess Brandy to his senior prom and even made a hip-hop record that did not do much. He was a teen idol project of Mr. NBA logo himself, Jerry West, acquired in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets on draft day, pairing Kobe with the league’s reigning big man, Shaquille O’Neal, and eventually Michael Jordan’s Bulls coach, Phil Jackson.

As Kobe morphed from close-cropped hair to a wild and angled afro to nearly bald during his 20-year career, I cannot say that I always understood or appreciated him, at least not in the beginning. It was obvious he was a gifted natural scorer, but there were also his nasty feuds with Shaq and Coach Jackson, and allegations that he was a selfish, just-give-me-the-damn-ball player in a team sport. No matter, because first came three straight championships with Shaq, then two more with Pau Gasol, proving the point that Kobe, the most dominant alpha male hoopster of his times, could win without O’Neal. Wedged in there are two Olympic gold medals with Lebron and company in 2008 and 2012; a regular-season MVP; two scoring titles; the second-most points in an NBA game ever (81); four All-Star game MVP awards; a slam dunk contest title; 18 All-star game appearances in his 20 years; and the dizzying epilogue to it all: 60 points in his very last game.

Indeed, there is an ancestral baton-passing from Dr. J, to Michael Jordan, to Kobe Bryant, to LeBron James. Unbelievable and unapologetic work ethic, stunningly fearless leadership, and a charisma coupled with a killer instinct that defined each of their eras. While Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player ever, fact is Kobe Bryant is the bridge from MJ to LeBron, a top-3 to top-5 player, easily, and also the player most like Mike that NBA players of recent times have seen, as many were too young to have witnessed Jordan, and regard MJ as an unreachable and mythical God. While Larry Bird and Magic Johnson retrieved basketball from the trash-bin of late-night tv reruns, and Michael Jordan made it crazy, sexy, and cool and an international religion in that Jesus sort of way, I would argue that Kobe Bryant took the sport to the promised land of becoming the national past-time that baseball once was, paralleling the sped-up society America was becoming because of the tech revolution. Put another way, Michael Jordan was crisp, after-work R&B with massive pop appeal while Kobe was defiantly hip-hop, a Negro with an attitude and a gigantic boulder on his shoulder.

He came into the league the same year as Allen Iverson, who was selected number one overall, and of the twelve picks ahead of Kobe at number thirteen, it’s only Iverson and Ray Allen that are Hall of Fame level, like Kobe. Kobe Bean Bryant simply outworked and out-hustled every single player of his class, stretching his mandate from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, from Tupac and Biggie to Drake and Meek Mill, from SkyPagers to iPhones, from CDs to Spotify, from MTV to Netflix.

Scrape and strip away all of that, and there Kobe Bryant was, the Black Mamba I saw play in person on more than a few occasions: a six-foot-six specimen of a humanoid who came into the NBA as a teenager, tall and lanky and wide-eyed, and left it muscled and statesman-like, having willed his frame from every manner of finger and hand and shoulders injuries, including his miraculous return from that torn Achilles. He had the encyclopedic IQ of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the Cirque du Soleil flexibility of Michael Jordan and Dr. J, and the insatiable appetite to win of Bill Russell and Jerry West. Watching Kobe Bryant play basketball was like watching The Nicholas Brothers tap and contort and leap through the most brilliant dance routine in film history in “Stormy Weather,” defying gravity and common sense in spite of the many ways Black men had been told to stay in their place. No, watching Kobe Bryant play basketball was like being there when Langston Hughes spit blood poetry from his Harlem veins, putting to words what the eyes and heart done seen, carrying the dreams of an entire people across rivers, with no shame. No, watching Kobe Bryant play basketball was like James Brown live on stage singing, scatting, screaming, dancing, splitting, freestyling his Blackness in mid-movement as if he were an ordained Yoruba priest refusing to be stuck at the bottom of a slave ship. No, watching Kobe Bryant play basketball was like watching African ballet, except with a basketball and baggy shorts, where Black male minds and Black male bodies like Kobe Bryant’s acted as if they, not a White man, had invented this game, cutting, slashing, hanging on rims, up on their toes, back on the heels of their feet, basketball representing a freedom for Kobe that could not even be explained by a Langston Hughes poem.

I saw Kobe drive past people for lay-ups. I saw Kobe dunk. I saw Kobe shoot mid-range jumpers. I saw Kobe hit three-point daggers. No matter what you, I, anyone thought of Kobe’s way of playing basketball, you simply could never take your eyes from him. He whipped his chiseled body, the way we colored folks were whipped on those steamy Southern plantations, except he had full control of his brain, and his body, and understood that he was going to be a different kind of man, a different kind of Black man, one where sports was merely a means to the prize, not the prize itself. And the big prize for Kobe Bryant was to be his own boss for the rest of his life—

But, if there is one major blemish on his public record, it is the sexual assault allegation by a young woman who worked at a resort in Eagle, Colorado in the summer of 2003. Kobe had at this point been married a few years to Vanessa and was the father of a daughter. The case damaged his reputation at the time badly, ended several corporate endorsement deals, soured many from him, and foreshadowed the #MeToo movement. But, interestingly enough, Kobe Bryant remains one of the only famous accused men to say words like these in the aftermath of such an allegation, and after the accuser had refused to testify:

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."

The accuser filed a separate civil lawsuit against Bryant, which the two sides settled privately, and Kobe apologized, something which is rare for most men to do, particularly with that kind of allegation. But I thought of the incident when, two years after he had retired, his movie, “Dear Basketball,” was both nominated for and won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Was Kobe Bryant given a pass because of his celebrity and status and long allegiance to the Los Angeles community, which included Hollywood? Or did someone take note of that admission and apology made around the sexual assault case and believed Kobe had learned from that horrible mistake?

I do not know, I am not here to judge, and I think about the fact that Gianna and two other daughters would be born to Vanessa and Kobe after that incident. I think about the ultimate alpha male living in a female-centered household and what that must have done for him, for his growth as a man, as a father, as a husband. And I think about the many photos I have seen of Gianna and Kobe at basketball games, the obviously beautiful and effortless love between father and daughter, and what it must have meant to Kobe to be able to mentor Gianna’s clear passion for the sport that had made her Dad a world-wide superstar, a filmmaker, an author, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a millionaire several times over, an ex-athlete who was sprinting full speed ahead into the second act of his life. A mentorship that led to their being on that helicopter together when it crashed.

I ache for this loss, for our loss, for Kobe, for Gianna, for the seven other human beings on that ill-fated copter ride. Ash is to ash and dust is to dust, and the physical being of Kobe Bryant has been snatched from us, forever. I ache for his wife, Vanessa, I ache for his three remaining daughters, Natalia, age 17, Bianka, age 3, and Capri, not yet 1, and whose middle name happens to be Kobe. Forget what Kobe Bean Bryant means to us as a champion athlete. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a partner, a parent, a sibling, in such a cruel and barbaric way. There is just something very perverted about experiencing this in real-time. There is just something very maddening about the fact that there is nothing we can do to bring him, her, them, back.

View this post on Instagram

Merry Christmas 🙏🏾🎄🎁

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on Dec 25, 2019 at 11:20am PST

Finally, I think of a song Simon & Garfunkel wrote long ago called “Mrs. Robinson,” where they ask whatever happened to a once-great athlete who represented the spirit of an entire people. As America and the planet mourns the passing of Kobe, as we cry tears for a person who was trying to do the right thing in a time of many doing wrong, I reimagine those lyrics for the Black Mamba and I end it here because I have no other words—

Where have you gone, Kobe Bean Bryant

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you

Woo, woo, woo

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson

Kobe Bean has left and gone away

Hey, hey, hey 

Hey, hey, hey

 

Kevin Powell is a poet, journalist, civil and human rights activist, public speaker, and author of 14 books, including his autobiography, 'The Education of Kevin Powell.'

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Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks for an open man during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on June 4, 2000 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Tom Hauck

NEXT: Kobe Bryant

This story appeared in the April 2000 issue of VIBE, months before he won his first of five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Written by Isaac Paris

Okay, Sherlock, we know Kobe Bryant is way past the verge of stardom. As an all-star shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, he gets thousands of fans screaming with excitement every other night. Bryant's baseline drives are as smooth as Nate Dogg's vocals, and his slam dunks bump like a gritty bass line from a DJ Premier track.

Now, with his debut rap album, Visions (Columbia), due in March, the 21-year-old is poised to follow in the footsteps of teammate Shaquille O'Neal (who he occasionally exchanges verses with in the locker room) and prove that his skills aren't limited to flying above the rim. Although Bryant realizes that being the man on the hardwood is no guarantee that you can actually hold it down in the studio (NBA stars/inept MCs like Gary Payton and Jason Kidd can attest to that), Visions proves his wordsmith capabilities are ample enough to allow him to play with the big dogs.

"People are gonna be surprised," Bryant says self-assuredly. "Toward the latter stages [of recording], I was real comfortable. I was like, 'I got this sh*t!'" In fact, tonight in his Milwaukee hotel room––on the eve of a game against the Bucks––Bryant's more pressed with defending the unproven mike skills of his homegirl that he is his own.

"Tyra can sing," he says of supermodel Tyra Banks, who makes her singing debut on Visions' first single, the buoyant "K.O.B.E." Destiny's Child, the Roots' Black Thought, 50 Cent, and Beanie Sigel also support the hoopster on the CD.

"The album is pretty hard. People expect me to come a little more commercial than I did," says Bryant. "At first it was all battle raps, but I really wanted to give the total picture of what was going on around me, like money, jewelry, women, and trust issues."

Nevertheless, money, hoes, and clothes aren't the only things this player knows. He also knows how to win. The following night, after No. 8 scores 22 points as the Lakers thrash the Bucks, he's convinced he'll be just as successful rapping as he is playing on his championship-contending team. "[On the mic] you want respect. If I want something I'm gonna get it. Just buy the album and see for yourself."

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Tyler the Creator attends the 62nd annual GRAMMY Awards on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

11 Takeaways From The 2020 Grammys

There are many factors that go into winning a Grammy, the most coveted music prize of the industry. It’s more than “is the song good?” Sometimes it’s based on campaigning, other times it’s based on what voters feel should be the industry standard. However, the fun doesn’t come until after the ceremony, where all the winners have been revealed and it’s time to process what it all means for the larger picture and the future of recording.

The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards was met with controversy this year thanks to a lawsuit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences from ousted CEO, Deborah Dugan. Through her explosive claims and allegations, the voting process has gotten even less transparent— and we’re left with more questions and mysteries than answers. Still, artists and media moved forward, and the focus has temporarily shifted back to the music and the awards.

Here are 11 takeaways from VIBE that capture the essence of key wins (and snubs) at the Grammy Awards.

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