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At the time, Bannister, who knew Sanchez from the scene, was scouting MCs with the intention of forming a group; he fancied himself a RZA-like mastermind.With Bryant and Sanchez already in the fold, Bannister added Broady Boy and Jester.
When Bryant returned to Philly at the age of 14, he met Anthony Bannister, a 16-year-old working at the Jewish community center on City Avenue where Joe Bryant was the fitness director.
“Kobe was 14, skinny, wiry but passionate and determined,” Bannister recalls about first meeting Kobe in 1992. At first, Bannister was Bryant’s rap cicerone, providing a crash course on the golden age of hip-hop Bryant had missed while living abroad.
Every morning, he’d drive to nearby Ramapo College and shoot 2,000 jump shots.
Sometimes, Stoute would shuttle in streetball players from New York to help Bryant brush up on his defense. When he wasn’t playing ball, he was recording at the Hit Factory with late-’90s producers par excellence the Trackmasters and their stable of artists, which included Nas, Noreaga, Punch and Words, Nature, and a young scrapper named 50 Cent. He routinely went clubbing with Stoute the Chinese restaurant favored by the nouveau riche. Bryant was in love with the purest form of hip-hop, and he wanted a challenge: to battle the pros.
Cool C, Three Times Dope, Schoolly D, DJ Cash Money, and, of course, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince laid the foundation in the ’80s.