Muhammad Ali: Hip Hop Ambassador

In my hip hop class I talk about Muhammad Ali as one of the early influences on hip hop music. His way of freestyling and coming up with witty braggadocio to get the upper hand on his opponents, was an early style of battle rap.

Ali embodied the spirit of hip hop with his bravado and his belief in his abilities to overcome any obstacle. The youth who created hip hop we're of the same mindset. They would brag about themselves because no one else would and many of them came from challenging circumstances in their homes and communities.

Because of the impoverished conditions in the inner cities and a heightened sense of anonymity, the act of renaming yourself and creating your own identity is a key part of hip hop culture. Hip hop youth recreated a larger than life representation of themselves by creating emcee, deejay, graffiti and b-boy names that embodied their ideals. By changing his name to Muhammad Ali from the name Cassius Clay, Ali was a role model for many youth in early hip hop culture.

Through his enlightening and truth-bearing lyrical prowess, Muhammad Ali embodied the spirit of conscious rap and he delivered his rhymes with humor which made it all the more compelling.

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