June 4th, 2016 will always be a day remembered as the day one of the most important athletes, leaders and inspirations left this earth. Muhammad Ali was a GIANT! I was born when his career was well over and Parkinson’s was his new battle, but I would catch ESPN classic and listen and read about his history and the people that knew him.
Muhammad Ali was a person who stood for something, believed in himself at exponential levels and created change that had nothing to do with his craft of boxing. With his spiritual growth and knowledge of self, he made history and move mountains and inspired a generation.
Why does hip-hop need a Muhammad Ali? Because a Muhammad Ali would stand tall against oppressors. He wouldn’t be a closet financial supporter of Black Lives Matter. His thoughts, actions and voice wouldn’t be controlled by the potential paycheck to be cut.
We live in a different time. A time where the cool thing to be is passive or reckless. We are short on men and women that want to be a messenger of truth like Muhammad Ali. We are short on polarizing figures that know their power with or without a dollar and will use that power to make change for all after them.
We are short on Giants that are unashamed to represent us being Black People or the Hip-Hop Community because of backlash and potential financial blow.
At the peak of his career, Ali went to jail because of his Islamic faith and because he didn’t want to fight a war for a country he knew seen him as “less than” and oppressed him and his people. I’m not sure if Hip-Hop has that Giant. I think we have many who would take advantage of that Giant’s missed opportunity, but I’m not sure we have many that would stand with or behind the giant.
This by no means is a slight to Talib Kweli, David Banner, Killer Mike, Chuck D and Kendrick Lamar, but these men alone aren’t enough for the entire hip-hop community.
We want to hashtag “Stay Woke” but have we set our alarm clocks? What are we willing to do for what we believe in? What sacrifices are we willing to make for injustice and change?
As @BehindTheRhyme moves forward, I will strengthen our awareness, activity and help communities. I am going to do all I can to restore the town I once called home. I am going to organize charity driven block parties, revitalize music education and provide better alternatives to young people who only think they have the streets.
That’s just the start. It’s time that I too get off my butt and be a catalyst for great change around me and for the generation to come. Why? Because I want to be a Giant. Because Hip-Hop Needs Muhammad Ali’s.