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As the nation celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the work and efforts of the global icon are back at the cultural forefront in a big way. Hip-hop was birthed to give voice to the marginalized, and has paid homage to Dr. King’s message since its inception. Common and John Legend‘s Oscar-nominated (and Golden Globe-winning) “Glory” continues that tradition.

In honor of Dr. King’s birthday, here are 15 shout-outs from rappers across the spectrum.

1. “By The Time I Get To Arizona” – Public Enemy

“Talkin’ MLK/Gonna find a way/Make the state pay/I’m lookin’ for the day/Hard as it seems/This ain’t no damn dream.”

2. “Playing With Fire” – Lil’ Wayne

“So assassinate me, bitch!/’Cause I’m doing the same shit Martin Luther King did/Checking in the same hotel, in the same suite, bitch/Same balcony, like, assassinate me, bitch!”

3. “Getting Married” – Nas

“It was my dream for my queen to put the ring on and ride/Even Martin Luther King had a fling on the side/That’s what the negative ones say.”

4. “Do Your Time” – Ludacris feat. Beanie Sigel, C-Murder, and Pimp C

“Give my eyes to Stevie Wonder just to see what he’s seen/But then I’d take ‘em right back to see Martin Luther’s dream/I dream that I could tell Martin Luther we made it/But half of my black brothers are still incarcerated.”

5. “Gangbangin’ 101″ – Snoop Dogg feat. The Game


“I’m Dr. Martin Luther King with two guns on/Huey P. Newton with Air Force 1s on.”

6. “HiiPower” – Kendrick Lamar

 “Visions of Martin Luther staring at me/Malcolm X put a hex on my future; someone catch me/I’m falling victim to a revolutionary song.”

7. “9.11” – Tragedy Khadafi ft. V-12

“Shots riddled Malcolm X and destroyed his life/Even Martin Luther King got hit with the flame/And you wonder why the black man stuck in the game.”

8. “Dirty Mef” – Method Man feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard

“Ya’mean, I’m taking one for the team/Like Martin Luther King, taking one for a dream.”


9. “Don’t Stop Y’all” – Rev. Run

 “Just like Martin Luther, the King who might teach/Rock a collar to the party, after party go and preach.”

10. “B.M.F. (Build Minds Faster)” – Lupe Fiasco

“I think I’m Malcolm X, Martin Luther/Add a King, add a Junior/Some Bible verses, couple Sunnahs/an AK-47—that’s a revolution.”

11. “Deadly Medley” – Black Milk feat. Royce da 5’9″ & Elzhi 

“They laugh at your performance/My shit is Martin Luther/Your shit is Martin Lawrence.”

12. “Shiny Suit Theory” – Jay Electronica feat Jay-Z

“How could this nappy headed boy from out the projects/Be the Apple of America’s obsession?/You totally disconnected with reality/Don’t believe in dreams/Since when did black men become kings?”

13. “Doin’ It Again” – The Roots feat. John Legend


“Doin’ it again just like Poitier and Cosby/I’m like Martin Luther King; you like Rodney/The difference is I give it everything inside me.”

14. “A Dream” – Common feat.

“It’s a cold war; I’m a colder soldier/Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King/I ain’t using it for the right thing/In between lean and the fiends, hustling and schemes/I put together pieces of a dream/I still have one.”

15. “My President Is Black (Remix)” – Jay-Z

“Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run.”

Dylan “CineMasai” Green is a movie geek, hip-hop aficionado, and pita chip enthusiast. Find him on Twitter.

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15 Of Hip-Hop’s Best MLK References  was originally published on