It was Steve Stoute’s idea to sign Kobe and his rap group Cheizaw to Sony Music. But Stoute only signed the group, because he wanted Kobe Bryant on the label and wanted to Kobe to have a solo album. He was not really interested in the rest of the group, and didn’t tell them. Stoute had done this before in life by signing Toni Braxton’s sisters in order to secure Toni Braxton on the label.
There are a total of 16 tracks on the album, 15 tracks, no intro and an outro. And Kobe appears on all of them.
Of the 16 tracks, Cheizaw member Broady Boy has the most guest features on the album with 5 guests appearances. After that, all of the guests on the album such as Nas and Destiny’s Child have one single appearance.
The original demos brought to Steve Stoute and Sony Records were completely different from any songs from the unreleased “Visions” album. Those “lyrical underground records” Sony was not interested in and they have also never been released.
Also on the record is an unreleased collaboration with Run-DMC titled “My Adidas”. Kobe at the time was signed to adidas and was the main basketball sponsorship at the time.
The first single “K.O.B.E.” was Tyra Banks first time signing on a record. The executives at Sony were thrilled to have one of the NBA’s biggest stars on record with a famous supermodel like Tyra Banks. Not just that, it was their first times ever appearing on wax. The label put a lot of money in the roll out of the single because they felt it would be huge on the charts.
Kobe performed the single “K.O.B.E.” live at the 2000 All-Star Game and the album was originally projected for an April/May 2000 release. The other artists that Kobe had contend with during the 2000 spring rap release schedule: Eminem, Big Punisher, The Big Tymers, Cypress Hill and DJ Quik.
It was November of 1999 that Cheizaws and Kobe split from the album and it was going to be strictly a Kobe Bryant album. Kobe had told members that Stoute had convinced him that he could be in a Will Smith type role and sell millions of records in addition to being an NBA All Star.
And speaking of Will Smith, if you listen to his album (which not many have) there are a lot of similarities between Kobe Bryant and Will Smith. Not just in the style of rapping or content, but also in the beat selection. The reason behind that is Stoute had oversaw Will Smith’s “Big Willie Style” at the same time Kobe started recording rap records.
Kobe had originally wanted to do underground backpack-style of records (his inspiration was Canibus) for his group album Cheizaw. Stoute didn’t think that was the direction they should go in and thought more pop-friendly songs were the way to go. In the end, part of the reason that Kobe did get dropped from the record label was because the music in the end started sounding too-pop friendly. One person involved described it as “Mickey Mouse music”. Kobe was dropped from the poor showing of his single and that was it for the Visions album.