Nelson Mandela Brought ‘Light’ To Music, Ludacris Says

The rapper recalls meeting the anti-apartheid icon during a trip to Africa in a sit-down with Sway.

Not only did the world lose a major human rights leader on Thursday (December 5), it also lost a man who influenced music from all genres, from 50 Cent to U2.

To remember Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at 95 after a series of lung infections, we’re revisiting what the musicians he influenced have to say about him.

“Nelson Mandela, he’s the epitome of black history in my opinion,” Ludacris, who had performed at Mandela’s 46664 AIDS benefit concert, said in a 2011 interview with MTV News’ Sway Calloway.

“When I first heard of Nelson Mandela, I was in school,” Luda recalled, reflecting on the leader’s heroic battle to end apartheid in South Africa. “They didn’t do him any justice, I’ll be honest.”

For the rapper, meeting the former South African president proved to be an eye-opening experience.

“I just kept telling him how much of an honor it was, how much of an influence he’s been on my life — on others’ lives,” Ludacris said. “This is crazy because in a sense, he was a fan of mine. And I’m just like, completely overwhelmed that this man is a fan of mine. I feel like I have way more of a duty and way more of a justice that I have to bring after meeting this person.

“I have some more work to do,” he confessed. “I have some more people to touch.”

Asked why artists have often referenced Mandela in their lyrics, Ludacris said: “A lot of rappers, we can relate to him because one of the most important things he said was that it’s our light, not our darkness, that frightens us the most. A lot of people, they say they scared of death, but what people are most frightened of is to live.”

Shortly after news of his death has been announced, representatives for the late leader took to his Twitter account to post the following quote: “Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.”

On the day of Mandela’s passing, Ludacris took to Instagram to share his sentiments.

“Honored that I had the chance to meet this amazing, influential being,” he wrote. “You will live on through your work for eternity.”