Talib Kweli, just like his hip-hop peers, understands how much of an impact Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words have made both during his life and after his untimely death. As King's supporters honor his life during today's national holiday (Jan. 17), two days after his official birthday on Jan. 15, the Brooklyn rapper details what the prominent leader of the African American civil rights movement has done for hip-hop.

"I think Dr. King's legacy is so great that hip-hop culture is not immune to it," Kweli tells VIBE. "Hip-hop culture does not exist without Dr. King, and I think most people who listen to hip-hop recognize and understand that. I don't know if most people employ Dr. King's spirituality, vision and clarity into their everyday lives, but his legacy is certainly respected."

While those celebrating Martin Luther King Day may have only heard his speeches through YouTube clips, the 'Gutter Rainbows' creator heard King's words firsthand. During 1982, Kweli witnessed the Nobel Peace Prize winner speak in front of loyal followers at a rally.

"I was six or seven years old and my mother took me to D.C.-they were having a rally to create the national holiday," he shares. "I know that rally couldn't have compared to the 'March on Washington' rally in '63, but it's still a memory from my childhood that sticks through the test of time. I remember hearing speeches from Dr. King, and especially seeing Stevie Wonder perform 'Happy Birthday,' which was an incredible experience that I'll never forget."

To commemorate Dr. King's work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination, the rhymer plans to spend the day with his family and "celebrate life."

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