Book Review: Beat Boxing: How Hip-Hop Changed The Fight Game
By Chris Akers
Growing up as a teenager in the 90s, my choices in music ranged from house, to indie to drum and bass. I listened to and liked hip-hop, could name some of the most popular artists as well as the odd album from the genre, but I was never an expert of the field.
Yet even growing up in the UK, what I was aware of was hip-hop’s cultural influence. It was not just in the music. It was the clothes that were worn, the businessmen who hustled and created incredible music companies, the producers whose signature beats on tracks were their own tags on tape. Hip-hop culture went beyond the tracks and the clubs.
Boxing in the 1990s became increasingly influenced by hip-hop culture. In reality, this is not a surprise. Like boxers, hip hop artists and the people within that circle, such as managers and producers, start off at the bottom rung of society. While talent plays a big part of who rises to the top of both genes, promotion is a must who those who want to be known beyond their locality. Both genres produce street smart articulate people who are a lot more intelligent that others give them credit for.
Todd Snyder’s latest book (published by Hamilcar), is an excellent history into both boxing and hip-hop and how the two have coalesced more and more since the mid 80s.
Snyder explains that it was in the mid 80s how a certain heavyweight star’s ascent occurred at the same time as hip hop’s success in the mainstream. Snyder describes how Mike Tyson’s emergence and his alignment with hip hop not only created friendships between him and other rappers (in particular Tupac Shakur) but how this trend has developed over time and is still influential today.
Rappers accompany boxers to the ring, in turn boxers make appearances in the latest hip-hop videos. Managers who started out in hip-hop like James Prince are now managing fighters the calibre of Shakur Stevenson.
One feature of the book is how Snyder details how certain boxer-rapper friendships. From Tyson and Tupac to 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather, these friendships while well known, in the case of 50 and Floyd, feel like a missed opportunity, in regards to how they could have significantly influences the other person’s world, had they not had a falling out.
From rappers who were Golden Gloves winners to boxers who initially wanted to be rappers, Snyder’s book brilliantly demonstrates the increasing cultural symbiosis of hip-hop and boxing down the years. While boxing can produce great individual stories, it is refreshening to read a book that looks at the sport in a original light.
An excellent read and highly recommended.
Now to start listening to the list of hip-hop tracks written at the back of the book that mention boxing in some capacity in their lyrics. Another 499 to go…..