Mike Tyson Raps on Madonna's New Album, Considers Mussolini a Hip Hop Pioneer

Fightland Blog

By Sarah Kurchak

Legendary boxer, actor, and cartoon character Mike Tyson recently added another discipline to his increasingly eclectic CV: Madonna collaborator. That’s right, Iron Mike recently joined the pop icon in the studio to contribute a verse to a song called “Iconic” from her forthcoming album, Rebel Heart, which drops on March 10. Chance The Rapper also appears on the track.

Now, this isn’t an entirely unprecedented occurrence. Tyson has long had connections to the music world. As The Village Voice details in their comprehensive 2010 listicle Mike Tyson’s Top Ten Rap Cameos, the fighter was friends with 2Pac, who wrote the entrance music for his fights against Frank Bruno and Bruce Sheldon. Tyson has also appeared and/or been sampled on a number of songs over the years, inspiring and working with everyone from Canibus to Lil Wayne to Rick Ross. He’s also dabbled in less serious fare, like “One Night In Bangkok” from The Hangover II and “Ain’t Got No Time For Bird Sex” from his Adult Film series Mike Tyson Mysteries, which was recently renewed for a second season.

But every other aspect of his work on “Iconic”—from its inception to its historical inspiration to its implications for Mike’s future—is utterly bizarre, even by current Tyson standards.

In an interview published this past Friday, Tyson told Rolling Stone that he’s known Madonna since 1988 when he and his then-wife joined Madge and her then-husband Sean Penn for a screening of a Pee-Wee Herman film.

Somehow this odd double date between the eighties’ biggest poster couples for domestic violence led to a friendship of sorts between the Iron man and the Material Girl. “She’s an awesome, serene person,” Tyson gushed to Rolling Stone.

So when she asked Tyson to rap on her new album, he jumped at the chance. “Madonna calls you and tells you to come somewhere, you go,” he told the publication. “I didn’t know what the hell I was going there for. I’m just there having a good time and hanging out with Madonna. She has her producer there and I go into the studio and I didn’t know if she wanted me to talk or rap. I just go in there and start talking. I’m talking about my life and things that I have endured. I’m saying some really crazy stuff. It was really intense.”

Speaking of saying really crazy stuff, Tyson went on to tell RS that his verse, which he freestyled in one take, was inspired by the infamous fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

“I know people may say ‘this guy’s a fascist’ and all this stuff, but man, you can take positivity from watching him,” Tyson mused. “No wonder why Hitler was attracted to him. That guy’s a hypnotic figure. There’s so much pride behind what he’s saying. I’m not even Italian and I feel the pride he’s projecting. He had that street swag; he was doing this stuff with his hands and moving his head before it was even hip-hop.”

There’s a joke about rhythm, timing, and making the trains run on schedule somewhere in there.

Tyson enjoyed his “Iconic” experience so much that’s he seems to be considering a music career at least semi-seriously. “Doing the song with Madonna makes me think this could really happen,” he said. “Most guys that come in there drink a bunch of liquor or smoke 100 blunts. I just went in and boom, one take. Everyone thought it was cool.”


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