Like A King
Ben Harper (1994)
This track off Ben Harper's 1994 debut "Welcome to the Cruel World" is a rootsy folk tune, the allure of which lies in its stalwart political stance. "Like a King" draws parallels between MLK and Rodney King, a victim in the early-'90s L.A.P.D. police brutality cases. Harper's stance on the matter is easily discernible -- "Martin's dream," he avers, "has become Rodney's worst nightmare."
I Have A Dream
Common feat. Will.i.am (2006)
Sampling Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream" speech, Will.i.am and Common joined forces for a track that appeared on the soundtrack for "Freedom Writers." "My dream is to be free," Will.i.am sings on the chorus, while Common shares verses about struggle, pain and hope. Even the rap generation respected Dr. King's struggle.
Perhaps, to some, it is a surprise that an Irish band would be the one to create two of the most prolific songs about an American historical figure, but that fact just goes to show MLK's influence worldwide. "MLK," a brief lullaby, shows up on the same album as "Pride (In the Name of Love)," but the two songs couldn't be more opposite. Both songs led to Bono being honored by MLK's official memorial, the King Center.
King Dream Chorus and Holiday Crew (1986)
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream was shared by many, including the Fat Boys, Menudo, El Debarge, New Edition, Run-D.M.C., the late great Teena Marie and an early Whitney Houston. Here, the all-star cast gets together to sing and rap in honor of Dr. King and what he believed in. Nevermind the antiquated, low-budget, low-quality video -- this one is for the history books!
The Gregory Brothers' Auto-Tune the News (2009)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was known more for his speeches and activism than his singing ability. But when the Gregory Brothers began their series of auto-tuned video speeches and news stories, auto-tuning MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech was a no-brainer. As with most Gregory Brothers remixes, the resulting "song" isn't incredibly catchy. But for what it lacks in catchiness it makes up for in its overall message of unity, which has not been lost in the vocoding process.