The 10 Best-Written Boxing References in a Rap Song
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Rappers say the craziest things about fighters. Some of it's braggadocio, some of it's life-changing and some of it is just something to get them through their next line.
Here are the 10 best references.
Honorable Mention: Kanye West on Howard Cossell in 'Who Gon Stop Me'
The hilarious nod at the legendary sports commentator is at the 1:11 mark.
Last night ain't go so well/
Got kicked up out the hotel/
Got a little freaky like Marv Albert/
Yes! Tell Howard Cossell/
-Kanye West from "Who Gon Stop Me" off his collaborative album with Jay-Z entitled Watch the Throne
Sure, Howard Cossell is more of an overall sports figure and not just exclusively a boxing commentator and Marv Albert is definitely more closely associated to basketball than anything else, but this is funny.
The reference to Albert's trial for sexual assault (that included freaky acts such as biting) and the final command to break the news Cossell is too tickling to not give at least an honorable mention.
10. Lil Wayne on Sonny Liston in 'Swag Surf'
The Sonny Liston lyrical beatdown occurs at the 2:52 mark.
Watch me shoot to the bank, I'm a money pistol/
Weezy beat the beat up like Sonny Liston/
Redbone do me good, then her friend assist her/
-Lil Wayne from "Swag Surf" off of his 2009 mixtape No Ceilings
Lil Wayne references the powerful puncher Sonny Liston to describe how he demolishes rap beats. He also must run really fast to the bank as he compares his speed to that of a bullet.
And of course, his money and much-celebrated celebrity status comes with a reward, as indicated in the third line—groupies.
9. Nipsey Hussle on Muhammad Ali in 'Rose Clique'
The reference to being a "Young Ali" can be found at the 2:16 mark.
Life is just a fight against your disbelief/
That's why I'm screaming I'm the greatest of all time like young Ali/
Play Mohammed to these false prophets in this industry/
But I'm just me/
-Nipsey Hussle from "Rose Clique"
Hussle here encourages young practitioners of their craft to proclaim themselves the best so that they may actually believe and eventually achieve such lofty aspirations similar to a young Muhammad Ali.
Hussle plans to share his dreams to all the naysayers (false prophets) who would predict failure as the Mohammed of the Islamic Koran did. See what he did there?
8. Rick Ross on Manny Pacquiao in the 'Shot Caller Remix'
Rick Ross big-ups a praying Manny Pacquiao at the 2:35 mark.
Put the coupe on a pair of Chuck Taylors/
Bought the block, no Love for the neighbors/
Top down, praying to my Lord and Savior/
We on the floor, Pacquiao the world's greatest/
-Rick Ross from "Shot Caller Remix" off French Montana's upcoming debut album Excuse My French
Rick Ross rolls into a gated community with some nice shoes (rims) on his car, a lot of real estate (the block) and a top-down coupe that brings him closer to God (no roof).
He references Pacquiao's pre-fight ritual of praying on the floor before his bouts as well as big-ups Pacquiao by calling him the world's greatest.
7. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah on Whitaker vs. Chavez in "The M.G.M."
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah drop references throughout this short song.
Chavez tearing him down/
Sweet Pea, get your sh*+ off!
-Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, members of the Wu-Tang Clan, from the song "The M.G.M." off their 1997 second album Wu-Tang Forever.
This is simply a re-imagining of what it would be like to attend a Pernell Whitaker (Sweet Pea) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez fight if the two had fought at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas rather than the Alamo Dome.
The picture is set superbly with spilled popcorn and fine Japanese women. Many boxing fans would love to attend this premier fictional event if they could.
6. Big Daddy Kane on Joe Frazier in 'Platinum Plus'
Big Daddy Kane lays down the Joe Frazier reference at the 1:45 mark.
You trying to go places/
About nothing getting low wages/
drinking Hennessy with no chasers/
Right hook is like Joe Frazier's/
I'm the bodacious/
-Big Daddy Kane from "Platinum Plus" off Big L's posthumous studio album, The Big Picture
The flow is ridiculous from Big Daddy Kane, but what's he saying is even slicker. He tells a guy who wants to make it big that he won't get anywhere in life with low money.
Then he proceeds to brag about his expensive drinking habits and right hook that's apparently in the same league as Joe Frazier's. He's all-around doing it much bigger than the broke soul he's talking to.
5. Nas on Prince Naseem in 'You Won't See Me Tonight'
Nas references Prince Naseem at the 0:30 mark.
We both intellectual/ Can't forget how I met you/
You thought I was a boxer, Prince Naseem/
But I'm a mobster, Nas from Queens/
-Nas from "You Won't See Me Tonight" off his third album I Am.
In this throwback jam, Nas recounts a scene of how he met a young lady. In his own slick way, Nas suggests the two had relations and he "beat it up" like a boxer.
Then Nas reaffirms her after the good round of loving that he's a hardcore man of the streets at heart.
Judging by the fact that this came out in the late 1990s, when Naseem was still good, that's a good beating (wink).
4. Jay-Z on Floyd Mayweather in 'Light Up'
The Mayweather reference occurs at the 2:43 mark.
I just landed in that G4-50/
Caught the Mayweather fight 'cuz the satellite is crispy/
-Jay-Z from "Light Up" off Drake's Thank Me Later album
Jay-Z's in a private plane watching the Mayweather fight from a private jet and the picture is excellent.
In other words, ladies and gentlemen, Jay-Z is balling.
3. 2pac on Mike Tyson in 'It Ain't Easy'
2pac references Mike Tyson at the 1:58 mark.
Getting calls from my n*gga Mike Tyson. Ain't nothing nice/
'Yo Pac, do something righteous with your life'/
And even though you innocent, you still a n*gga/
So they figure, rather have you behind bars than triggers/
-2pac from "It Ain't Easy" off his third album, Me Against the World
2pac and Mike Tyson were actually very good friends. 2pac went into jail as Tyson exited, and they wrote each other letters.
This particular few bars recount a conversation the two had over the phone while 2pac was jailed. Tyson, even with his troubles, still wanted to give good advice and hope the best for 2pac.
The day 2pac would become fatally wounded in a hail of gunfire, he was at the Tyson-Seldon fight.
One can only hope 2pac took Tyson's advice when he got out of jail and continued to bless the world during his final days on Earth.
2. Duke Bootee on Sugar Ray Leonard in 'The Message'
Bootee lays down his frustrations about not being able to see the Sugar Ray fight at the 1:58 mark.
My brother's doing bad on my mother's TV/
Says she watches too much, it's just not healthy/
'All My Children' in the daytime, 'Dallas' at night/
Can't even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight/
-Duke Bootee from "The Message" off the Grand Master Flash and Furious Five album The Message.
In 1982, Duke Bootee wrote and recorded one of the earliest rap descriptions of what would become known in the black community as the crackhead.
His brother is stealing his mom's TV and saying she watches too much. The reality is that he's going to sell that TV for his next high.
Because of his brother's need to get a fix, Bootee's mom can't watch her soap operas, and he can't watch the Sugar Ray fight.
1. Snoop Dogg on Evander Holyfield in 'Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang'
The STD PSA from Snoop that namedrops Holyfield is at the 0:50 mark.
Now you know I ain't with that sh*+ Lieutenant/
Ain't no p*ssy good enough to get burnt while I'm up in it/
And that's realer than 'Real Deal' Holyfield/
And now you hookers and hoes know how I feel/
-Snoop Dogg from "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" off Dr. Dre's debut solo album The Chronic.
Here, Snoop delivers a PSA on STDs in the middle of a song celebrating the act of smoking weed.
He drops knowledge that he feels is realer than "Real Deal" Holyfield (back when he actually was the Real Deal and not just Real Old).
Can't disagree with that. Sorry, Holyfield, but STDs are realer than you. So kids, do what Uncle Snoopy says and wrap it up.
Oh! And by the way, smoke weed everyday (just kidding).