Q-Tip has taken on the role of music producer and co-lyricist for the upcoming musical “Ali,” centered on the legendary heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
The musical is set to premiere in the fall of 2024 at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, with plans to bring the production to Broadway in 2025. Q-Tip joins the creative team, which includes lead producer Richard Willis, composer Teddy Abrams, director and author Clint Dyer, associate music producer Casey Benjamin, and music supervisor Sean Mayes.
Reflecting on his involvement, Q-Tip stated, “Muhammad Ali has been an inspiration for me my entire life. I look forward to working with Teddy, Clint, Casey, Sean, and the entire creative team in telling the great man’s story in this form.” The project builds on Abrams’ 2017 work, “The Greatest: Muhammad Ali,” described as a “multimedia opera-rap-oratorio mashup,” which premiered at the Kentucky Center, laying the foundation for a Broadway musical about Ali’s life.
Q-Tip, known for his role in A Tribe Called Quest, has been selective in his projects. His last album with Tribe was “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” in 2016, and he had promised three solo albums in 2020, including “The Last Zulu,” which has been teased since 2013.
Willis expressed his excitement at having Q-Tip on board, saying, “We are beyond delighted and grateful to have the living legend, Q-Tip, join this extraordinary creative team on ‘Ali.’ Q-Tip’s artistry, knowledge, and experience are unmatched. If that wasn’t enough, to also have the incredible Casey Benjamin and brilliant Sean Mayes joining the team makes this all feel a bit surreal yet fitting for The Greatest.”
Dyer also commented on the addition of Q-Tip, stating, “I am thrilled to be working with Q-Tip, who is one of my music heroes and the perfect person to join us in telling Muhammad Ali’s story, as well as the uber-talented Casey and Sean. Q-Tip is most definitely one of hip-hop’s biggest artists and a great collaborator/producer. Co-writing the lyrics for ‘Ali’ with him will be an honor.”
Abrams added, “We are incredibly fortunate to have Q-Tip, Casey, and Sean join the music team. They are all world-class talents with tremendous musical vision and knowledge; they are already bringing exceptional energy and inspiration to the musical.”