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This Is How Muhammad Ali Influenced Hip Hop Music

Before Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, there was the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. He was indeed one of the most significant people in sports history. He wasn’t just known for being such a great boxer, he was also known for fighting for racial equality as well as being a great example to his fellow African Americans especially during the White domination during the civil war.

What most people don’t really know is that Ali wasn’t just focused on his boxing career during his prime. He was also involved in the entertainment industry wherein he actually made some couple of appearances in some films like Requiem for a Heavyweight, Freedom Road, and more. Then again, he was also known of being so poetic and using rhyming words when he’s trash talking and also having influential speeches, this then became such a huge impact in the hip hop industry.

Ali As A Musician

Unbeknownst to most people, the greatest boxer of all time was also a Grammy nominated artist. It was in 1963 when he actually released his very first album, he was even referred to as the very first rapper since he technically popularized it. After the release of his first album via Columbia Records, he famously did a cover of a famous song entitled Stand By Me, which became incredibly popular.

His album then sold over half a million copies and this was when his influence on future rappers started. He was referred to as a the rhyming trickster as well as a comical trash talker. When he died in 2016, his legacy the he left behind both in the sports and the music industry will always be remembered.


Ali released first album by Columbia Records


His Influence On Hip-Hop Music: Song Lyrics

Ali was known to be the very first hip-hop poet of his time, he started doing this before he begins a fight. Just like when he fought against Archie Moore, Ali had to break out some sort of battle rap with “Archie’s been living off the fat of the land; I’m here to give him his pension plan.”

The trash talk then made it seem as if he was actually singing while talking faster and with rhythm because of the lyrical poetry. He wasn’t even doing the rhyming beforehand as if he was planning them, some says he could actually do it on the spot.

His Influence On Hip-Hop Music: Name Change

Ali’s influence wasn’t just on the songs and the styles of the lyrics, it was also on the name. The boxer changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali when he decided to convert into Islam. He even stated at that time that Cassius Clay is a slave name and that he never wanted it since he never actually chose to have it. During the 80s, rapper’s started to have their own nicknames instead of having just their names.


Experts believe that Ali’s name change definitely hit the mark for the rappers especially nowadays, it is very rare to have someone not to have a screen name in the hip hop industry. This is exactly what some of the most popular musicians are doing today, just like Tupac, Eminem, LL Cool J, Jay-Z, Drake, 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Cardi B, and more.

Muhammad Ali References

Since Ali had been such a huge influence when it comes the hip hop genre. There have been tons of references that rappers of today have made for him. Just like in The Game’s song with 2chainz, wherein they actually based it off of the chants during the famous 1974 fight wherein people would chant Rumble in the Jungle.

Another song would be by Big Boi that features Jay-Z entitled Flip Flip Rock. The birth name of Ali, which is Cassius Clay, was mentioned in the song and it also talked about how the late boxer used to talk trash along with his rhymes. Although some people actually don’t agree with the fact that he was the very first ones to rap, Ali is still dubbed by some as the founder of rap music even if it wasn’t technically referred to that at that time. Rappers nowadays throw major shapes with their music, just like how the late boxer throw some diss towards his opponents.

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