34 Songs That Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 14, 2021

For decades recording artists across genres have honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his long-enduring legacy by paying tribute to the civil rights icon in their music.

Whether his name has been dropped on a pop, rap, or rock track, the feeling emoted by the simple mentioning of his name is always the same: unity.

His name alone brings people together.

While it takes more than an MLK name-check to evoke actual change, it's one of the many ways his legacy has endured.

Celebrate and remember the life and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by listening to some of his most important speeches on iHeartRadio, via the MLK Day Playlist, as well as MLK Day podcast episodes that highlight the activist and civil rights leader, and his legacy.

To honor the late civil rights icon on this MLK weekend, iHeartRadio has rounded up 34 songs that pay tribute to Dr. King.

Check them out below!

1. "My President Is Black (Remix)" - JAY-Z

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

2. “What We Talkin’ About” - JAY-Z

“And now that that's that, let's talk about the future / We have just seen the dream as predicted by Martin Luther."

3. “Made In America” - JAY-Z

“Sweet king Martin, sweet queen Coretta / Sweet brother Malcolm, sweet queen Betty / Sweet Mother Mary, sweet father Joseph / Sweet Jesus, we made it in America.” 

4. “HIIIPOWER” - Kendrick Lamar

“Visions of Martin Luther staring at me.”

5. “Backseat Freestyle” - Kendrick Lamar

“Martin had a dream / Martin had a dream / Kendrick have a dream."

6. “MLK” - U2

“Sleep tonight / And may your dreams / Be realized.”

7. “Pride In The Name Of Love” - U2

“Early morning, April 4th / Shot rings out in the Memphis sky / Free at last, they took your life / They could not take your pride.”

8. “We Shall Overcome” - Bruce Springsteen (Pete Seeger Cover)

“Oh, deep in my heart / I do believe / We shall overcome some day.”

9. “Maybach Music 2” - T-Pain, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West

“Martin Louie the King Jr / Starting all that stunting is gonna ruin you.”

10. “By The Time I Get To Arizona” - Public Enemy

“Talking MLK, gonna find a way.”

11. “Fight The Power” - Public Enemy

“Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be / Lemme hear you say / Fight the power.”

12. “I Have A Dream” - will.i.am and Common

“It's a Cold War - I'm a colder soldier / Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King.”

13. “One Vision” - Queen

“I had a dream when I was young / A dream of sweet illusion / A glimpse of hope and unity / And visions of one sweet union.”

14. “Don’t Hold Your Applause” - Wale

“And I be feeling Malcolm, Martin, and Pac would defend me.”

15. “Proud To Be Black” - Run DMC

“Like Martin Luther King, I will do my thing / I'll say it in a rap cause I do not sing.”

16. “Like A King” - Ben Harper

“Like a king, like a king, like a king / How I wish you could help us Dr. King.”

17. “Do Your Time” - Ludacris

“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'd dream that I could tell Martin Luther we made it / But half of my black brothers are still incarcerated.”

18. “Doin’ It Again” - The Roots

“I'm like Martin Luther King, you like Rodney / The difference is I give it everything inside me.”

19. “Happy Birthday” - Stevie Wonder

“The dream as clear as he that they should make it become an illusion / And we all know everything / That he stood for time will bring / For in peace our hearts will sing / Thanks to Martin Luther King.”

20. “Sideline Story” - J. Cole

“But homie if you change, may you change for the better / Back when Martin King had a thing for Coretta / Wonder if she seen all the dreams he was dreamin' / Did she have a clue of all the schemes he was schemin.’”

21. “Ghetto Classics” - Ying Yang Twins

“And y'all forgot about the earlier times / When Martin Luther King had a dream / That one day we'd walk together.”

22. “Letter To The King” - Nas and The Game

“I've been meanin' to do me some letter readin' / To the King, he forever breathin', your message is never leavin.’”

23. “My President” - Nas and Jeezy

“Stuntin' on Martin Luther, feeling just like a King / Guess this is what he meant when he said that "he had a dream.”

24. "2000 And Beyond" - Big K.R.I.T.

"Martin Luther King had a dream; we was right there/I wonder what he saw when he up and had nightmares?/Quite scared, all the work he had done/Couldn't stop what we've become in 2000 and beyond."

25. "Word To The Mother (Land)" - Big Daddy Kane

"Martin Luther was a tutor; many were pupils/Those who fell victim were those without scruples."

26. “Glory” - Common and John Legend

“Selma's now for every man, woman and child / Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd.”

27. "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."

28. "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."

29. "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."

30. "A Boy Was Conceived" - Ice Cube

“Only three short years after the 1965 Watts Riots/ And the death of Malcolm X/ And of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr./, A boy was conceived, who's lyrics would change the world.”

31. "They Killed Him" - Bob Dylan

“Another man from Atlanta, Georgia, By name of Martin Luther King/ He shook the land like the rolling thunder/ And made the bells of freedom ring today/ With a dream of beauty that they could not burn away.”

32. "One" - India.Arie

“Gandhi was a Hindu/ Martin Luther King, a Christian/ God is a religion, they knew love was the vision/ And it all comes down to one.”

33. "Demons" - A$AP Rocky

“Give me the beat, and let me lean, tap the vein, let it stream Feel the pain, Young Martin Luther King, with a dream.”

34. "Dreams" - The Game

“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).”

PHOTOS: Getty Images

Jay-ZJ. ColeLudacris

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