Today is the birthday of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. His health has been failing, and he was in a state of diabetic shock recently, as reported by NewsOne. Friends and relatives of the activist tried to visit him earlier this month but were initially denied access, and only after international supporters rallied behind them were they finally permitted to see him. Mumia was convicted of murder in 1982 over the shooting and killing of a police officer, and has appealed his sentence over the years regarding several controversies with the trial. He was originally on death row but is now serving life in prison.
To many hip-hop artists and activists, Mumia’s case has also been a rallying call for issues such as the treatment of prisoners, the way trials are carried out and the death penalty. The Urban Daily has put together 7 songs that show how artists have gravitated towards Mumia’s case, and how his name has become popular within Hip-Hop. There are many more songs not featured here that reference the popular activist:
KRS One Feat. Channel Live – Free Mumia
KRS One and group Channel Live teamed up to address a variety of topics on this 1995 track. First appearing on KRS One’s self-titled album, the legendary emcee is one of the first to use his music to rally behind Mumia. This version was on the vinyl release of the single, packing more direct commentary on Hip-Hop and its relationship with America.
Tupac Shakur – White Man’z World
It is well known that Tupac was connected to former members of the Black Panther Party, and the emcee spoke about it on several occasions. This song on the posthumously released album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory mentions Mumia twice along with Tupac’s stepfather Mutulu Shakur and godfather Geronimo Pratt. It is said that Tupac considered Mumia a mentor.
Reflection Eternal (Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek) Feat. Donte – The Human Element
Brooklyn’s own Talib Kweli and Cincinnati emcee Donte of MOOD (not to be confused with Yasiin Bey, whose real name is Dante) rhymed on this rare cut about prison and the large number of incarcerated Black people. The track was on a compilation to raise awareness about Mumia called The Unbound Project Volume 1. Last week Kweli posted a statement from The Campaign to Bring Mumia Home on his Tumblr.
Massive Attack Feat. Snoop Dogg – Calling Mumia
When British group Massive Attack was working on the same soundtrack as Snoop Dogg, it was suggested that they should come together for this collaboration. This song was originally recorded under the alias 100 Suns for the documentary about Mumia, In Prison My Whole Life. Some of the people involved with the documentary include Russell Simmons, Angela Davis and Alice Walker.
Immortal Technique Feat. Akir – One (Remix)
The activist and rapper who is known for his social commentary came together with like-minded artist Akir for this track. While this is labeled as a remix, the original version of this track has apparently never been released. Mumia has collaborated with the rapper several times before, often recording statements from prison for Immortal’s albums and mixtapes.
Public Enemy – Gotta Give The Peeps What They Need
It should be no surprise that the legendary Hip-Hop group is one of many who has supported Mumia over the years. From their 2002 album Revolverlution, the group demands the release of Mumia throughout the track in addition to former Black Panther H. Rap Brown. In 2013 when the group performed at Jay Z‘s Made In America festival, they appeared on the stage there with a banner showing the words ‘FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL’ on it.
The Unbound Project – Mumia 911
This is a lesser known all-star collaboration that brought together legends and rising artists for a cause. Emcees like Black Thought, Slimkid of The Pharcyde, Pharoahe Monch, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, Jean Grae, Tragedy Khadafi, Dead Prez and many others jumped on the same track in support of Mumia. Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine also appears here, and Mumia’s daughter rhymed under the name Goldiiloks.
Extra Mention: Medina Green – Full Court Press
The Brooklyn crew which Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) is a member of dropped this underground cut on the 1999 compilation The Unbound Project Volume 1. Along with Yasiin his brother DCQ is a member of the crew which also includes Magnetic, Lord Ato and Jah-Born. Yasiin has performed and spoken at rallies in support of Mumia, and was part of the 2007 documentary In Prison My Whole Life.