This Photo of Jay Z Was Inspired by Muhammad Ali

This Photo of Jay Z Was Inspired by Muhammad Ali

Get the full story behind this stunning photograph by Jonathan Mannion.

Published October 7, 2016

Jonathan Mannion is a reputed photographer known for capturing some of hip-hop's most iconic images throughout the past two decades since first picking up a camera in the 1990s.

Among the many subjects making up his impressive body of work are the likes of Dr. DreAaliyahOutkastNasKendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, DMX, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Eminem, Lauryn Hill, A$AP Rocky and Jay Z, the latter of which is a focal point in his recent exhibit, which was organized in conjunction with the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards and highlighted in a new episode of BET's Focus series. 

Mannion's latest gallery showing featured a star-studded opening night in Atlanta and included one image in particular striking everyone's eye.

The photograph in question is of Jay Z and was inspired by none other than Muhammad Ali. The image is, without a doubt, an incredible highlight of the photographer's extensive portfolio.

As part of Mannion's Focus episode, he discusses why it was important for him to take Hov back to his roots for the series, bringing the rapper along for a visit to Brooklyn's Marcy Projects, where the hip-hop mogul grew up, in order to learn firsthand what made Jay Z the man he is today.

During their photoshoot, Mannion recalls how Jay Z took one kid's bike and began riding around on it, and how there were children everywhere in the neighborhood, making for both a memorable day and some amazing photos.

"I always have these references in my mind of these old Ali photos," the photographer explains. "You know, where he's engaging the youth because he knows that when you spend time with them and give them attention, it's life-changing for these kids."

As you can see for yourself in the photo above, Jay Z taking time out to interact with some of his younger fans is both extraordinary and important, and Mannion's snapshot of the powerful moment is truly special.

Take an in-depth look at Mannion sharing the details behind his life's work in this episode of BET's Focus series in the video above.

Written by KC Orcutt

(Photo: Marcus Ingram/BET/Getty Images for BET)

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