Mumia Abu-Jamal in popular culture

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A polarizing figure, Mumia Abu-Jamal has attracted widespread attention in popular culture. Since at least 1995, there are examples of references to him in notable popular music recordings and musical performances. He and his case have been the subject of three documentary films and a shorter 20/20 television special which aired shortly after the 27th anniversary of his apprehension.

The references and treatment evoke him either as a representative of death row prisoners in the United States, as a revolutionary, as a man either deservingly or undeservingly subject to punishment, or as a convicted murderer capable of enlisting others to the cause of maintaining his life and opposing the imposition of capital punishment.


Music[edit]

Several notable musicians, including KRS-One, Chumbawamba, Rage Against the Machine, Unbound Allstars, Saul Williams, Anti-flag, Man Is the Bastard, Immortal Technique and Tupac Shakur have made references to abu-Jamal in their work.

  • In 1995 rapper KRS-One released an eponymous album featuring the song, "Free Mumia".
  • In 1996, The Black Crowes played some live shows with a portrait of Mumia Abu-Jamal on the drumhead and the writing "Free Mumia".
  • In 1997, the powerviolence band Man Is the Bastard released a split album featuring one side of music and one side of spoken word performed by Abu-Jamal.
  • In 1997 (December 10), English band Chumbawamba performed the song "Tubthumping" on the Late Show with David Letterman. Shortly before performing, the band decided to replace one of the choruses with a stripped down chant of "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal". While it was assumed by the band that this would be edited out of the broadcast version, it was broadcast as performed.[1]
  • In 1999 the band Rage Against The Machine released a song called 'Voice of the Voiceless' on their album The Battle of Los Angeles.
  • In 1999 Without Apology released the support album Reggae Free Mumia.
  • In 1999 the one-off collaboration of various hip-hop and rock artists Unbound Allstars released the LP Mumia 911.
  • In 2000 Looptroop Rockers released their album Modern Day City Symphony containing the song "Long Arm of The Law", in which they call out for the release of Mumia.
  • In 2001 Saul Williams released "Penny for a Thought" on his album Amethyst Rock Star. The song contains the line "How much will it cost to free Mumia? Who do I make checks payable to?"
  • In 2002, Jonathan Richman released "Abu Jamal" on his album Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love, espousing the innocence of Abu Jamal. He tells listeners to "protest with a letter, or maybe a phone call".
  • In 2002 the band Anti-Flag released a song called 'Mumia's Song' on their Mobilize album. The song "Vices" on their 2008 Album Bright Lights of America features a recording of Abu-Jamal speaking about the US Prison System.
  • In 2002 the hip-hop group Jurassic 5 released a song on their Power In Numbers album entitled "Freedom", which includes the line "Got people screamin' 'free Mumia Jamal' / But two out of three of y'all will probably be at the mall."
  • In 2003, rapper Immortal Technique released the album Revolutionary Vol. 2 which was endorsed by Mumia Abu-Jamal, who introduces the album ("Revolutionary Intro" track 1) and also provides a speech about hip hop's relationship to Homeland security in the track "Homeland and Hip Hop".
  • Jedi Mind Tricks' 2004 album Legacy of Blood contains the song "Age of Sacred Terror" with the lyric "If you come into our shows then you go bananas/And holding banners/In support of Mumia Jamal".
  • In 2005 (recorded 2004) rapper Immortal Technique released a 12" vinyl called Bin Laden Remix (Bin Laden Pt. 2)' which was produced by DJ Green Lantern, featuring Chuck D and KRS-One, Mos Def, and Eminem. Track 7 on the record was called "The War vs. Us All by Mumia Abu-Jamal." He also mentions Abu-Jamal in the song, “One (Remix).”
  • In 2007, Flobots released a tracked entitled "Same Thing" which mentions Abu-Jamal saying "Free Mumia and Leonard Peltier"
  • In 2008 Snoop Dogg recorded a track with Massive Attack called "Calling Mumia." It was recorded under the alias 100 Suns and features on the soundtrack of the 2007 documentary In Prison My Whole Life which revolves around the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal.[2]
  • In 2009, Rise Against released a track entitled "Death Blossoms" in reference to one of Abu-Jamal's publications.
  • Song: Free Mumia Abu Jamal Artist: I-Mara
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal Was Framed - Written by Peter Hicks and Geoff Francis
  • 175 Progress Drive - Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • RICANSTRUCTION recorded a song for Mumia Abu Jamal
  • 'Free Mumia' by the Racist Redneck Rebels
  • 'Singing This Song' by Brother Ali from 'Mourning In America, Dreaming In Colour', 2012

Film[edit]

Anti-Mumia
  • 1998 December 9, - ABC 20/20 special with Sam Donaldson
  • 2009 Documentary - The Barrel of a Gun by Tigre Hill[3]
  • 2009 Motion picture - Black Devil Doll - The villain, Mubia Abul-Jama, is based on Abu-Jamal. He is a black revolutionary sentenced to death by electrocution for mass murder.
Pro-Mumia

Sources and further reading[edit]

by Abu-Jamal, Mumia[edit]

Pro-Mumia[edit]

Anti-Mumia[edit]

Other[edit]

  • In 2010, episode 12 in season 3 of the show The Boondocks features Robert Freeman declaring "Look, Mumia; he's free" to distract Huey.
  • The 2010 Off-Broadway play After the Revolution references his case.

References[edit]