On Friday night June 3rd, 2016, we lost the best professional boxer of all time – Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr aka Muhammad Ali. He truly was the “Greatest of All Time“. The man had the audacity to say it, but in reality, the man spoke the truth. It was that confidence that made Hip Hop MC’s love this man. Hip Hop is about who’s best, so being braggadocious makes Ali and Hip Hop a perfect mix (no pun intended). Also, Ali just might be the inventor of rhyming since he “rapped” in press conferences before matches. So instead of mourning this icon of not just sport but of popular culture, we celebrate by looking back at some of Hip Hop’s greatest that have mentioned this boxing great in their rhymes. There are much more, but this is just a sample on how popular the Champ was in Hip Hop!
One of the earliest tracks that spoke about “Ali The Great” was The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rappers Delight“. Big Bank Hank raps,
“You see, I’m six foot one, and I’m tons of fun
When I dress to a T,
You see, I got more clothes than Muhammad Ali
and I dress so viciously.”
Eazy-E released his track “Radio” back in 1988 and again Ali was mentioned in the song as a witty pun.
“Always settin’ me a mark in the hip hop scene
On the radio the greatest of all times
like Muhammad Ali cause I punch rhymes”
EPMD also drops an Ali verse on “You’re a Customer” and in this case both Erick and Parrish drop lyrics praising the champ! P goes first with,
“I’m the P double E, the Thrilla of Manilla
Better known as the MC cold killer”
Then it’s E Double’s turn to represent,
“Because I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
No, I’m the E of EPMD”
The Fugees dropped “Ready Or Not” of their bangin “The Score album where Praz gives props the Cassius with the lines,
“I refugee from Guantanamo Bay
Dance around the border like I’m Cassius Clay “
The track that everyone should remember would be LL Cool J‘s “Mama Said Knock You Out” and not only is the title of the track an indication of the inspiration behind the song, he also drops a reference with,
“Just like Muhammad Ali they called him Cassius
Watch me bash this beat like a skull
Cuz u know I had beef wit”
On the posse track “DWYCK” by Gang Starr and Nice & Smooth, Greg Nice spits the rhyme,
“Ooohh la la ah oui oui, I say Muhammad Ali, ya say Cassius Clay
I say butter you say Parkay “
Will Smith got “Jiggy Wit It” and at the same time dropped a Ali reference at the same time. Don’t forget that the man also got to play the great Ali in the motion picture based on the boxers life.
“Mad cause I got floor seats at the Lakers
See me on the fifty yard line with the Raiders
Met Ali he told me I’m the greatest”
Big Daddy Kane also represented and by the way Kane raps, you would think that Kane would be the Ali of the rap world with all the “punch rhymes” Kane possessed! On “How You Get a Record Deal?” he didn’t disappoint!
“I couldn’t think of a rapper takin mines
I feel like Ali, “I’m the greatest of all times”
Floatin like a butterfly, stingin like a bee
Yeah I know this ain’t boxin but that’s still my pedigree”
Lastly, 50 Cent dropped some Ali lyrics on “Many Men” when he compares the legendary boxer to his rhyme skills.
“When I rhyme, something special happen every time
I’m the greatest, something like Ali in his prime”
Ali inspired a whole generation of rappers to put him in his rhyme, but the question remains, “Did Ali create rapping and was ahead of his time?” Its a valid question! Just by these original Ali rhymes, you knew the homie had bars!
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.”
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it—then I can achieve it.”
“I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail.
You know I’m bad.
just last week, I murdered a rock,
Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick.
I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
We will miss you champ! No More Parkinsons! No More Pain! No More Fights! Now, just rest champ! Rest in Paradise! You will always be the Greatest of All Time! God Bless Your Soul!
Related: 10 Hip-Hop Songs that Sampled PRINCE
Oh yeah…before I go…I’ll just drop this ish here! PEACE!!!