Quite possibly the last person anyone would expect to do a song honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. on MLK Day is Super Slimey, Atlanta trap-rapper Young Thug, but Thugger’s never been one to cater to other folks’ expectations. Granted, “MLK,” with fellow ATLiens Trouble and Shad Da God chipping in guest verses, isn’t exactly a Negro spiritual, but with its gospel-influenced keys and bouncy, uplifting vibe, it’s sure to provide encouragement for those days when it feels like life is hitting you with the fire hose.
The actual MLK reference in “MLK” is more like a flex, with Thug bragging that he rocks “Black diamonds, Black History Month / Turned to Martin Luther King overnight.” “We Shall Overcome” it isn’t, but if equal rights are a bridge too far, it seems to own a little bling is Thug’s idea of a decent consolation prize. Of course, it’s not all empty stunting; part of Thug’s verse is dedicated to condemning police brutality, referencing his disabled brother and officers’ unfortunate tendency to use their firearms to coerce cooperation. “I pray my deaf brother don’t run into the police,” he barks, “‘Cause you tellin’ him to put his hands up, he can’t hear / Ain’t goin’ for deceased / These rookie police need to get trained, even in their sleep.”
Trouble and Shad provide similar commentary, bemoaning some stressful life conditions and reveling in the riches that come with rap success. Young Thug may not be the biggest star, but “MLK” might just be the perfect look to help increase their buzz as all three maintain the grind to achieve their own version of the dream. Listen to “MLK” below.