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MLK thanked by Hip Hop legends

posted Jun 30, 2011, 8:53 PM by Ben Ortiz   [ updated Aug 29, 2011, 9:39 PM ]

by Ben Ortiz
, MLK Community Build Coordinating Group 

    Since I joined the MLK Community Build, I've been on the lookout for references to Martin Luther King, Jr. in pop culture.  Two examples are featured in my previous blog (MLK is mentioned in "Renegades of Funk" by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force and in an episode of "The Boondocks").

    The other day, while sorting through some materials in the Cornell Hip Hip Collection (where I work), I came across the 1982 album "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (watch the video for "The Message" below).  On the back cover are the customary thank-you's from the artists.  Immediately following God, their parents, and Sylvia Robinson (the founder of their record label, Sugar Hill Records), guess who's thanked...



    The title track on "The Message" is widely felt to be one of the most important songs in Hip Hop history because it's generally credited as the first to feature hard-hitting social commentary in its lyrics.  The fact that these Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famers were influenced by MLK surely contributed to their musical disposition, and therefore contributed to the evolution of Hip Hop as a unique, powerful tool for communication, expression, and education.


"The Message" - 
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (1982)

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Here is a sampling of just a few other Hip Hop songs that follow in the footsteps of 
"The Message" as works of social commentary:


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