As revealed earlier this week when Madonna unveiled the track list to Rebel Heart, the pop superstar’s upcoming studio album will feature an appearance from boxing legend Mike Tyson, who appears on the song “Iconic” alongside Mage and Chance The Rapper. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Tyson discusses how the collaboration was put in motion, and also decides to praise Italian Prime Minister/fascist icon Benito Mussolini’s “mesmerizing” oratory skills.
Tyson says that “Iconic,” which features the boxer as a hype man of sorts, came together after Madonna reached out to him for the appearance. “Madonna calls you and tells you to come somewhere, you go,” Tyson said. “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.”
Apparently, Tyson and Madonna are old friends — the champ says that he and Madonna met on a double date in 1988 with Madonna’s then-husband Sean Penn and Tyson’s then-wife Robin Givens, and the quartet took in a Pee-wee Herman movie. While Tyson describes Madonna as an “awesome, serene person,” but also dishes out some kind words to Mussolini, who inspired his ad-libbed moment on “Iconic.”
“When I did it, I think about being some guy like [Benito] Mussolini and they’re really arrogant, but you try to come from a positive perspective and be uplifting,” said Tyson. “You watch Mussolini on television — even though we don’t understand what he’s saying — he is so mesmerizing. I look at myself in that way. … I know people may say ‘this guy’s a fascist’ and all this stuff, but man, you can take positivity from watching him. No wonder why Hitler was attracted to him. This 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.”
So, again, Tyson said that Benito Mussolini had “street swag.” Happy Friday, I guess?
Rebel Heart is due out Mar. 10, and Madonna is scheduled to perform at the Grammys ceremony on Feb. 8. Click here to read our recent Q&A with Madonna, who does not mention Benito Mussolini as an inspiration.