Daniel Jacobs is a friendly dude in an unfriendly sport. But in his line of work, a laid-back demeanor can get you laid out.
“I’m not really a rowdy guy,” Jacobs says, “but that’s the mood I have to get in when I’m performing.”
So, how does Jacobs go from calm to Nic Cage-on-NoDoz levels of worked up?
He turns to hometown sounds.
“I listen to a lot of artists from Brooklyn, because when I listen to them—whether it’s rap, reggae, any type of genre—I feel that sense of pride that leads me on,” Jacobs says. “It just gets me amped, feeling like you have someone who has a voice that speaks to you, that gets you prepared for battle, that comes from the same place. There’s no words to describe that.”
One of Jacob’s pre-fight playlist staples is all-time hip-hop great the Notorious B.I.G., a man as smooth on the mic as Jacobs aims to be in the ring.
“I’m back there listening to some of his greatest hits and it’s just pumping me up,” he says. “Even though he’s maybe talking about shooting people or drug dealing, I understand that struggle, because I came from the streets and seeing those things. I never interacted with those things, but it’s always been around me. So when I hear the struggle, it allows me to perform like a gladiator.”
Another Jacobs favorite is raucous rap duo M.O.P., whose tunes tend to sound like a riot broke out in the vocal booth during the recording sessions.
“M.O.P. was one of those groups that I’ve always listened to growing up, just rocking out at family reunions, feeling that hardcore, there’s just something about it,” he says.
Prior to his August 2014 championship fight with Jerrod Fletcher, Jacobs fulfilled a childhood dream by having M.O.P. join him during his walk out to the ring as they performed their signature hit “Ante Up.”
“When we came out to ‘Ante Up,’ I felt so good, so superior. It was one of the greatest memories I have in my career thus far,” Jacobs says. “What ‘Ante Up’ means is that if I see you, and I like something you’ve got, I’m going to take it.”
That night, it was Fletcher’s title that got taken.