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Hip-hop remembers Nelson Mandela

David Goodson | 12/12/2013, 2:42 p.m.

Events that carry a global impact are very, very few and far between, but when they do, plans get shifted a little or shafted all together. So originally, I intended to big up the indisputable No. 1 hip-hop and R&B radio station in the nation, Hot 97 WQHT, for a huge new project that’s set to debut tonight, Thursday, Dec. 12.

Through the station’s Hip Hop Has Heart Foundation, Incite, the marketing division of parent company Emmis Broadcasting, and Emmis New York staff will volunteer a day of service and host “Lift ‘Em ’Up,” a celebration focused on lifting up New Yorkers who face challenging circumstances.

Gourmet meals and entertainment will be provided on sight, and the participants will leave with clothing, courtesy of Rocawear; new toys; and fresh, nonperishable food items, including fruits and vegetables, courtesy of GrowNYC. I even got to speak to the president of the Hip Hop Has Heart Foundation, Donyshia Benjamin, who spoke with pride of the new undertaking.

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I was going to conclude matters with kudos to Idris Elba (and Naomie Harris for that matter) for the whirlwind performance he pulled off in the Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Let’s hope that the Oscar buzz about the film is followed by a Best Actor Award nomination at least.

Yeah, it was all laid out. Then the world shook on Dec. 5, when word hit the street that Mandela had been called to the essence at the age 95. Brothers and sisters much more versed and qualified than me will wax poetic for months on end about the life and legacy of the brother, and I’ll soak it all in like a sponge. I’ll just add that after he walked from behind the walls of prison after a 27-year stretch, the first three letters in his surname should have been capitalized and read as MANdela. The fact that he was banished from his immediate people for the benefit of all people and had the steely resolve to maintain integrity and sanity was an accomplishment in and of itself. Forgiving your persecutors, that’s special. Thank you for your example, Mr. Mandela.

One of the biggest names in hip-hop, The Game, tipped his hat to the legacy of Mandela in the song “Letter to the King” (“I feel the pain of Nelson MandelaʼCause when it rains it pours, I need Rihanna’s umbrella”) and on “Blood Diamonds,” from his “Jesus Piece” album (“But nah, Mandela did 28 straight/without a f—n complaint, put a Afro on a saint”).

So it comes as no surprise that he would pay some kind of homage. The result was a huge arm tattoo. He and a bunch of hip-hop luminaries took to social media to divulge their sentiments. Here are a few:

L.A. Reid: “Nelson Mandela changed the world for all of humanity! May his blessed soul rest in peace.”

Russell Simmons: “Nelson Mandela was an angel walking on this earth. You were one of the greatest teachers this world has ever known. We love you and we miss you.”