Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream represent a multitude of values and principles to those who remember him. He was a peaceful uniter who stood up for the rights and liberties of African-Americans. And whether you focus on Dr. King’s message of non-violence or his efforts to bring social change, his legacy represents something good.
Rappers are often painted with broad brush of negativity, so it may seem antithetical to state that MLK would be proud of any of today’s MCs. But if you take the following rappers into consideration, you may change your opinion.
“Stand up for freedom…”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Lupe is one of the few rappers today who is relevant and unafraid to address politics and social issues in his music. Even though Lupe Fiasco’s commentary can sometimes be received as controversial, he’s made music with substance. In addition, his ability to make commercially viable songs allows his songs with more depth reach a broader audience. In an era where it’s not common to merge hip-hop and politics, Lupe Fiasco isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in, just as Dr. King did.
“We shall overcome…”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Even though he’s from the mean streets of Washington, DC; the same city where Dr. King delivered his legendary “I Have A Dream” speech; Wale music doesn’t represent that life. He resisted the temptation to rap about the streets in order to acquire universal hood credibility, and the staying non-violent has worked well for him. The biggest hits of Wale’s career (“Lotus Flower Bomb” and “That Way”) are hip-hop love songs that have not diminished his credibility. Wale doesn’t rap about political or non-violent issues, but he overcame the effects of coming up in a harsh city.
“The content of [his] character…”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s nothing controversial about J. Cole. He comes across a good dude who makes great music, while leaving the violence alone. J. Cole is a bright spot in today’s hip-hop, because he’s acclaimed by critics, respected by his peers, Grammy-nominated, and he makes hits. J. Cole deserves to be celebrated for his music, but also because he’s shown good character by channeling his energy into music instead of beef.
“The crooked places will be made straight…”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jay-Z acquired fortune and fame by talking about his life as a drug dealer. But now he’s known for being one of the most important voices of this generation, and now, the proud father of Blue Ivy Carter. Jay-Z started off crooked and even engaged in battles with Nas and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. However, Jay-Z has resolved his beefs and is now a respected artist and mogul living a straight life that includes him doing charitable work. Jay-Z hasn’t been perfect, but he’s proved that Dr. King was right when he stated that the crooked can go straight.
“All men are created equal…”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Diggy is an embodiment of Dr. King’s dream, in that he comes from a generation that is less color conscious than any previous generations. He’s aware of his Blackness, but doesn’t feel the need to appeal to any one race. Dr. King envisioned a world where people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Diggy Simmons shows that this dream is already a reality for some.