For Black History Month 2021, This Is Certified, Sony Music’s Hip Hop and R&B catalog division, has partnered with BET.com for the launch of “My Black Is,” a four-part thematic series that commemorates Black artists – past, present and future.
On today’s stage of Black excellence, we unveil the newly created animated video based on I Am The Greatest, the title track from (Cassius Clay) Muhammad Ali’s Grammy-nominated spoken word album. It is one of the most politically powerful examples of lyricism spoken at a time before hip-hop was even a sparkle in any MC’s eye.
Originally released as a comedy album in August 1963, I Am The Greatest debuted six months before the legendary boxer was named the heavyweight champion of the world, announced his conversion to Islam, and changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.
“My Black is POWER” is the connective tissue of power themes that we often see in Black music from today, yesterday and tomorrow. Ali swiftly glides like a butterfly and stings like a bee both in and out of the ring, shutting down his naysayers and alerting the world with all his bravado that at 21-years old, the champ is in the building.
“This kid fights great.He’s got speed and endurance, but if you sign to fight him, increase your insurance,” Ali says. “This kid’s got a left. This kid’s got a right. If he hits you once, you’re asleep for the night. And as you lie on the floor while the ref counts 10, you pray that you won’t have to fight me again.”
Muhammad Ali’s I Am The Greatest album has often been credited as a foundational influence within the world of rap music, leaving one hell of a historic impact on hip hop culture. Listen closely and you may hear the cadence of Kendrick Lamar, Will Smith, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg or LL Cool J long before any of them were even born. Whether East Coast or West, Ali’s influence in this particular genre of music is unmistakably palpable and that is power.
Watch the new visual masterpiece of “My Black Is POWER” below:
Photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment/Legacy Digital Marketing.