To describe Muhammad Ali’s greatness as “once in a generation” would be an understatement. The former heavyweight champion of the world was as much of a trailblazer in the ring with his flamboyant yet effective style as he was for his battles against religious persecution.
Additionally, Ali was hip-hop before hip-hop even existed. His cunning verbal jabs were like the precursor to battle rap techniques and his bravado and machismo set a standard that hip-hop continues to adhere to when anointing its deities.
BET.com was behind the scenes at Power 106’s annual Powerhouse concert on June 3 in Los Angeles when the news broke that the G.O.A.T. passed away. Here, we offer exclusive reactions from some of the MCs that Muhammad Ali influenced.
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“Anybody who knows me, knows that Muhammad Ali is one of my greatest influences. I love his mindset, ‘The greatest.’ That’s the mindset we all gotta have. Come into the room and shine and don’t let anybody’s insecurities dull your brightness at all. He actually said ‘The more real you get, the more unreal it’s gonna get.’”
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“Everybody wanna be the greatest. 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,' that’s the ultimate quote if you wanna be great.”
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“His impact in American culture was, man I can’t even explain it to you. It’s just like what he stood for. He stood by his beliefs, he’s the greatest of all time. Charismatic, beautiful, taught people how to promote and market. At the same time, believed in his God, his religion, his people. It’s not enough beautiful things to say about Muhammad Ali.”
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“Muhammad’s impact on the culture in general, he represents just strong individuals. An individual that stood on what he believed and still stood on what he believed in. He’s just one of the great people of our time.”
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“I’m trying not to cry in front of y’all. Muhammad Ali was the first rapper easily. Smooth rhymer, I wouldn’t say rap, he was quick with his rhymes so that lets you know what his thinking process was. How could you beat this man fighting when you can’t even beat him talking? You can’t beat him thinking? He was smooth on his feet too. He was dancing in the ring. We waited to see him dance and he knew it. Such a great marketing guy now that you look back cause he timed when it was time to do the shuffle. He timed it perfectly and nailed it.”