Esquire Classic's nearly 4-minute "Tribute to The Greatest" mash-up was quietly shared by @EsquireClassic this past Sunday morning, June 5th, along with a striking image of recently deceased three-time World Champion Muhammad Ali sorting through a collection of dusty 45's in a 1960-70's car along with the caption, "Ali spins the platters that matter;" Esquire's digital archival curator and editor Alex Belth composed the mix along with frequent collaborator Alan Friedman (aka illchemist). "I see it as an extension of the curation I do with print on the [Esquire Classic] site," Belth wrote within an email, which contained a 20-song tracklist from which he and illchemist meticulously composed a Soul-Funk-evoking soundbed to underlay beneath an array of Ali's finest spoken word material and fight commentary. Miles Davis, The Temptations, Bob & Earl's House of Pain-sampled "Harlem Shuffle," Bill Deal & The Rhondels, Gary Byrd, The Staple Singers, The Pazant Brothers & The Beaufort Express, The Explosions with Juanita Brooks, James Brown, Idris Muhammad, Funk Inc. Kool & The Gang, Earth, Wind & Fire, Milt Jackson, and Brass Construction are all beautifully sampled throughout "Tribute to The Greatest"'s all-too-brief 4-minute duration.
It's a rather fitting tribute to the man who once described himself as, and I quote: "I'm young, I'm handsome, I'm fast, I'm pretty.. and can't possibly be beat!" I've decided to accompany this very Ali Tribute piece with an Esquire-sampling piece of artwork titled, Saint Ali: Muhammad Ali Esquire April 1968 + Altarpiece of St. Sebastian by Master of The Holy Kinship II1 designed by Philippines-bred pop artist Eisen Bernard Bernardo. In addition to their latest "Tribute to The Greatest," Alex Belth & illchemsist have previously collaborated on countless sonic sketches to two full-length Hip-Hop and film dialogue-melding mixtapes, including Another Fine Mess, "Richie Acts a Fool," "Quick In a Slow Way Mix," "We Are Uncool," and Borough to Borough. "I'm as proud of the music collaborations I've done with Alan [Friedman] as anything else I've ever created—drawings, stories, whatever. That's the Emmis [Yiddish for "the truth"], too," Belth proclaimed in closing. Rest in power, Muhammad Ali!!!