Remembering Mandela and Hip Hop’s Reaction to His Passing

Posted: December 9, 2013 by ericbernsen in Features, Music, News
Tags: , , ,

The news of Nelson Mandela’s passing struck a chord with the world last week as we will remember the former President of South Africa as one of the most iconic figures in history. A revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist all in one, Mandela was a true leader as his government in South Africa focused on dismantling apartheid by addressing the racism, poverty, and inequality that plagued the country for years. He was the first black South African to hold office and famously served 27 years in prison for rebelling against the apartheid South African government in the 1960’s.

While Mandela’s legacy has a vast influence and reaches far beyond hip-hop and sports, he did have a powerful impact on both that is recognized to this day. The story of Mandela using the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a medium of unifying the whites and blacks of South Africa is a classic story and a primary example of a politician using sports for the betterment of his people and society in general.

However, what is less known is the connection between hip-hop and Mandela’s revolutionary actions against the apartheid. As detailed in a story written by Davey D at, the pioneers of hip-hop were heavily involved in rebelling against the South African apartheid. In the 1980’s, Sun City was a famous/glamorous location in the country that government officials used to invite musicians and entertainers from all over the world to come and perform. At the time, U.S. President Ronald Reagan had no plans of going against the apartheid, so certain musicians launched their own boycotting of the country due to the injustice that was occurring. This list included names such as Bob Dylan, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, George Clinton, and Ringo Starr. The godfathers of hip-hop joined in including DJ Kool Herc, Africa Bambaataa, Mele-Mel, The Fat Boys, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow and Gil Scott Heron.

With that in mind, it is no surprise that Nelson Mandela has been referenced in countless hip-hop songs by artists such as The Game, Jadakiss, Immortal Technique, Biz Markie, and KRS One. As a way of paying honor and respect to Mandela, many rappers took to Twitter to share their condolences on the loss of a man who contributed so much to the world and will be missed greatly. Take a look below at some of the responses.




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