Abolitionist, Activist And Rap Pun: The 10 Most Outlandish Harriet Tubman Rap References
Recently, a handful of rappers have compared themselves to the legendary abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman. Kanye West just declared that his spirit is aligned with Tubman’s spirit, while Nicki Minaj literally called herself the “new Harriet Tubman” and equated her fight for Billboard to count streams to the abolitionist freeing slaves and fighting against white supremacy. Lauryn Hill also recently invoked the legacy of Tubman, although her reference was a lot tamer.
Still, for some strange reason rappers have been alluding to Tubman recently in varying — but nonetheless — outlandish ways. But there have been a handful of rappers who’ve made outlandish references to the activist in their tracks, mentioning everything from her involvement in the Underground Railroad to her fighting against slave owners.
So, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most outlandish raps that reference Harriet Tubman. And after this, we recommend that you read a history book.
10. Saigon – “Forever Dreamin”
The Brooklyn rapper’s reference to Tubman isn’t the most outlandish — actually, it’s a little endearing. “I’m probably one of Harriet Tubman’s great, great, great, great grandkids,” the rapper declares on the track. But if we’re being real, there should’ve been at least several more “greats” for accuracy.
9. Young Thug – “No No No”
From 2015’s Slime Season 2, Young Thug’s reference to Harriet Tubman is laughably absurd, with the rapper saying “I might take that bitch out for martyr all ’cause she spoke,” before uttering the following, “Stand up Harriet Tubman.” The reference isn’t only unexpected but it’s also possible that he confused Tubman for Rosa Parks, with the “stand up” line sounding more in line with Parks’ removal from a Montgomery bus than something Tubman experienced.
8. Coolio – “For My Sistas”
It’s a shame that Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise isn’t just 17 different versions of “Gangsta’s Paradise.” But then again, if that were the case there wouldn’t be “For My Sistas,” which has one of the most confusing Tubman references on here. “Ya got a dear lil’ somethin’ like Harriet Tubman, huh,” the rapper says on the track. What is that little something though, Coolio? A gun? Or are you referring to something else? Either way, what are you talking about?
7. Kodak Black – “Take Me Away”
This one is just confusing. After making a sexual reference in the previous line — “tryna hit ya kidney I be all up in ya stomach” — Kodak says this next: “She wanna run away like Harriet Tubman.” Where’s the context? Why does she want to randomly run away after this? Is it because of you? Because referencing Tubman implies that she’s trying to run away from something bad or harmful, which, well…
6. Royce Da 5’9″ – “Dope!”
There’s no denying Royce Da 5’9″‘s lyrical prowess but you’d think he’d be able to make a better reference to Tubman than just “I could sell Harriot Tubman a mothafuckin’ railroad.” First off, you should be giving her that railroad for free. She did fight for our freedom after all. The audacity to try and hustle a railroad on Tubman — come on Royce.
5. David Banner – “Cleopatra Jones”
An ode to a lover by the name of Cleopatra Jones, David Banner namedrops Betty Shabazz and Angela Davis before referencing Harriet Tubman. “My Harriet Tubman, she dumping these clips / And slapping these hoes in the lips,” the rapper says, creating a very vivid image of the abolitionist firing cap after cap at anyone and everyone in her way, only to execute multiple open-palm slaps once all her ammo is gone.
4. T-Pain – “Work”
So far, T-Pain’s Tubman reference has been the only one to be a play on words, although it doesn’t make any sense. “I snatch yo bitch up out of that tub, man, like Harriet,” the rap-singer declares. Granted, it’s no “Put you in the mansion / Somewhere in Wisconsin,” but it does create a hilarious image of Tubman pulling someone out of a tub — presumably a white slaveowner — and beating the shit out of them.
3. Migos – “Trouble”
Migos has a few references to Tubman throughout their catalog but this is arguably the most ridiculous. “Put a nigga up under the ground, call him Harriet Tubman,” Offset raps. First, why is it “put a nigga up under the ground”? Whether it’s to emphasize the burial or not it’s unnecessary. You’re burying the nigga — their fate is sealed. But the Tubman reference just doesn’t make sense. No one was being buried through the Underground Railroad — they were trying to escape. Sure, you could argue Offset is making a reference to the fact that Tubman was a warrior and likely put a grip of racist slaveowners out. But that’s obviously not what he’s going for.
2. Rah Digga – “Harriet Thugman”
Look at the fucking title.
1. Mopreme Shakur – “N.I.G.G.A.”
Mopreme Shakur calls Tubman a real nigga on this track and it’s the most outlandish and greatest accolade a rapper could ever give to her.