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POP MUSIC | THE GREATEST | POP EYE

May 05, 1996|Steve Hochman

Who's the original rapper? That's open to debate, but there would be a lot of votes for boxing great Muhammad Ali and his "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" boasts. Now the champ will be heard--using samples from a new documentary film--alongside current hip-hop stars in the song "Rumble in the Jungle." The track is being written and produced by the hot trio the Fugees for the soundtrack of the film "When We Were Kings," which documents Ali's legendary 1974 title bout with George Foreman in Zaire.

An R&B tribute song to Ali is also planned for the soundtrack, with Jimmy Cliff, Diana King and the Harlem Boys Choir lined up and several major stars in negotiations. An album will also feature music from a festival held before the '74 bout, including tracks by James Brown, B.B. King, the Spinners and the Pointer Sisters.

This will be the first release from Monster Records, a new company headed by Fugees manager David Sonenberg, who parlayed the success of his roster (which also includes Joan Osborne, the Spin Doctors and Spacehog) into a deal with Mercury Records. Sonenberg is also producer of the documentary, which will be in theaters in September.

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