Myck Kabongo, Cape Town Tigers point guard, is significantly better than J. Cole. But the DRC international has nothing but respect and admiration for the Grammy winner on the court as well as off.
Cole and Kabongo have been friends since high school. Cole's manager Ibrahim ‘IB” Hamad, who is from Canada, is a childhood friend.
Kabongo, who is using Lu-Kusa WOE for his musical pseudonym says that Cole was criticized for trying to play pro ball. However, athletes are subject to similar criticism when they express a strong interest and passion in music.
“There is a stigma: “Oh, he's an athlete.” It's not something we want to hear. [Many]Kabongo stated to ESPN that athletes who do release music are trash.
“I have been studying hip-hop since my childhood. I take hip-hop much more seriously that the average rapper who just wants to be cool. I actually have something worthwhile to say. My music will touch people and have a positive effect on their lives.
“I'm very critical about what I say and how it's said, because it's very important that little kids look up and are easily influenced. I'm in a position to influence people for good.”
While Kabongo did not share the same bond as Cole with Hamad in their relationship, he was still able to reach out to Cole at last year's BAL where Cole played three games against the Rwanda Patriots.
“I played with him [Cole]Kabongo said that one of my songs was performed at the BAL in last year's maniacs.
I was eager to get a verse from him. But, where he is, I must work hard to earn it. I will get there one-day — I have faith, I have no doubt — but to have a GOAT listen to my song and respond to me showed me that I am on the right path.
“It was definitely huge.” [of him]to take the time to listen as he was about dropping The Off-Season. And to be like, ‘Yo! Your joint's fire. It meant a lot to my heart and gave me the confidence I needed to start this album.
Kabongo, who played for Ferroviário de Maputo at the time, was thrilled to see Cole at the BAL, but not everybody shared the same sentiment. AS Salé point guard Terrell Stoglin accused him of.
Cole has signed up to play since then, despite the backlash.Kabongo responded to criticisms by saying: “It is just something people don’t get.” People react indifferently to unknowns.
“He's a talent at both, and has worked his tail off in order to be in this position. It was great publicity for the league. The league was well-known so it's not hard to understand why people felt he didn't belong.
He played there… While he is not a superstar, he did his part to help his team get through the tough times. They reached the semifinals. People can be quick to judge people who don't fully understand the world around them. However, if someone is passionate about something and has the will to do it, it's not like they didn't put in the work, train hard and prepare to compete against professional athletes.
Kabongo hopes to become a basketball coach after his playing career is over. He grew up in Toronto and has a strong fan base in Canada.
His basketball career was his first to explode, with him playing college basketball at UT Austin and in the NBA D-League around the world. But at 30 he is starting to get plaudits because of his music.
“There are many factors to consider when looking to change your career. For me, however, basketball is the right choice. That fire is still there. “I have a fire for music, even when I'm not playing it. So I know how to balance it,” he stated.
“In Canada, I have almost a million streams. That is insane by itself. With the machine behind, I know I have music that… He said that he'd traveled so much so his music would resonate with so many people.
The US is the place to be if you want hip-hop to explode. With the current world, I only need a label to support it. People will listen to it and then it will act the way it is supposed to.
Kabongo's Tigers will take on Tunisia's US Monastir at Kigali Arena in the BAL quarterfinals. The game is scheduled to start at 14:30 CAT.
The BAL is broadcast on ESPN in Africa and ESPN+ in the USA.