Hip-hop luminary Q-Tip is the latest artist to make a move onto Broadway, announcing his involvement in the forthcoming musical about the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Aptly named “Ali,” the production is set to debut in Kentucky in the fall of 2024 before hitting Broadway in 2025.
According to Pitchfork, the play’s writer and director, Tim Dyer, expressed enthusiasm for Q-Tip’s contribution to the production. Dyer explained that they would leverage Q-Tip’s hip-hop beats and tap into his multifaceted talents across various musical areas. Q-Tip is set to serve as the music producer, co-lyricist, and cast album producer for the show.
Lead producer Richard Willis revealed that “Ali” would artfully blend diverse musical elements, including spoken word, verse, classical music, poetry, rap, and hip-hop. This ambitious fusion aims to provide a rich and multifaceted experience for theatergoers.
Q-Tip, who is a founding member of A Tribe Called Quest, expressed his excitement about collaborating with the creative team. He stated, “I am very excited to be collaborating with Teddy, Clint, Casey, and Sean in telling The Greatest’s story on stage. Muhammad Ali has always been a hero to me!” His involvement underscores the growing trend of hip-hop artists venturing into the world of Broadway.
In a similar move, rapper Common made his Broadway debut in December when he starred in the production “Between Riverside and Crazy,” which opened in New York City. The play, which follows the journey of an ex-cop and his paroled son as they strive to retain their rent-controlled apartment in the Upper West Side, marked a significant career milestone for Common.
The Grammy-winning artist, who portrayed the character of Junior in the production, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to work in theater. He noted that his role was multi-dimensional, challenging stereotypes and offering a complex portrayal of his character. Common further shared his excitement, describing the chance to act in a play as a long-cherished dream come true. He recalled reaching out to his mother when he learned he had secured the role, likening the experience to the euphoria of landing his first record contract.
In this evolving trend of hip-hop artists transitioning to Broadway, their talents are contributing to the revitalization and diversification of the theatrical experience, offering audiences a fresh and innovative perspective on storytelling through the medium of theater. As Q-Tip joins the creative team behind “Ali,” the stage is set for a production that draws from the vast musical and cultural legacy of Muhammad Ali, a legendary figure in the world of sports and beyond.
Derek Chan – Editor