It should come as no surprise that Martin Luther King Jr. has been referenced thousands of times in hip hop. In addition to being maybe the greatest black hero in American history, MLK fought to create a creative space where black artists could share stories and express fears and hopes. His eloquence, bravery, and aspirations have been a constant source of inspiration to rappers hoping to one day achieve their dreams.

We have included 18 MLK shoutouts from artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, & Lil Wayne below. Happy MLK Day!


Kendrick Lamar - "HiiiPower"

"Visions of Martin Luther staring at me
Malcolm X put a hex on my future, someone catch me"

"Visions of Martin Luther staring at me
If I see it how he seen it, that would make my parents happy"

J. Cole - "No Role Modelz"

"Listen even back when we was broke my team ill
Martin Luther King would have been on Dreamville"

Public Enemy - "By The Time I Get To Arizona"

"This is Sister Souljah.
Public Enemy, Security of the First World, and all allied forces are traveling west to head off a white supremacy scheming to destroy the national celebration of Martin Luther Kings birthday. Public Enemy believes that the powers that be in the states of New Hampshire and Arizona have found psychological discomfort in paying tribute to a black man who tried to teach white people the meaning of civilization.
Good luck brothers, show 'em what you got."

Jay Z - "My President is Black (Remix)"

"Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk
Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run
Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly
So I'mma spread my wings, you can meet me in the sky"

Black Milk - "Deadly Medley" feat. Royce da 5'9" and Elzhi

“They laugh at your performance
My shit is Martin Luther, your shit is Martin Lawrence”

The Game - "Dreams"

"Blushing in this 40 ounce, letting the ink from my pen bleed
Cause Martin Luther King had a (dream)
Aaliyah had a (dream), Left Eye had a (dream)
So I reached out to Kanye and (I brought you all my dreams)"

Lil Wayne - "U.O.E.N.O."

"Dick harder than a armadilla
MLK would be proud of me, 'cause I do this shit for all my niggas"

Tupac - "Words of Wisdom"

No Malcolm X in my history text, why's that?
’Cause he tried to educate and liberate all blacks
Why is Martin Luther King in my book each week?
He told blacks, if they get smacked, turn the other cheek

Snoop Dogg - "Gangbangin' 101" feat. The Game

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

Gucci Mane - "Extra"

"RIP to MLK, he was a born leader
Malcolm X, Mandela, them my damn people"

Common - "A Dream"

“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”

Ludacris - "Do Your Time" feat. Beanie Sigel, C-Murder, & 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"

Mick Jenkins - "Vibe"

"Our Bill of Rights from the past will never make it to the future
Even with a Martin Luther"

Method Man and Ol' Dirty Bastard - "Dirty Mef"

“Ya' mean, I’m taking one for the team
Like Martin Luther King, taking one for a dream
I'm dope, to many fiends, live by many means
If you don't stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything"

Big K.R.I.T. - "Lost Generation" feat. Lupe Fiasco

"So let's get paid, turn these motherfuckers into slaves
School is for lames, man, these niggas join gangs
Fuck Martin Luther King, nigga, fuck change
Fuck peace, I want a chain"

Nipsey Hussle - "Smoking With My Stylist"

"All in burning crosses, which royalty regardless
Honestly I'm honored just to represent the progress
Distant as I seem to you, I know what I mean to you
Martin Luther King Jr., Hustle let me dream through you"

The Roots - "Doin' It Again" feat. John Legend

"Doing 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"

Kendrick Lamar - "Backstreet Freestyle"

"Martin had a dream
Martin had a dream
Kendrick have a dream!"