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Sydney "Pelé" Maree, better known by his family-given nickname Pelé, and his stage name Rap’s Revolutionary, is an American born - South African rapper and songwriter. Pelé first gained major attention in 2009 when he was discovered by DJ C-Live who featured several songs from Pelé's 3rd album, The Verdict, on Johannesburg-based radio station YFM’s Hot 9 countdown. Hype Magazine SA listed Pelé among South Africa’s top 10 new artists of 2009.
Born in Philadelphia, PA to Lisa Maree and 2-time US Olympian & former 1500m World Record holder Sydney Maree, much of Pelé’s early music was influenced by his experiences growing up between the US and Post-Apartheid South Africa. Rap’s Revolutionary is a nom de guerre that Pelé attributes to his grandfather’s revolutionary struggle against South Africa’s former Apartheid regime. His Grandfather, Ambition Mutle, was a South African freedom fighter and anti-Apartheid activist who was incarcerated on Robben Island for 13 years with the likes of Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. Pelé’s song “Freedom Fighter” is a tribute to the unsung heroes of the anti-Apartheid movement, a sample of the late Lucky Dube's song by the same name.
While attending the University of Florida, Pelé wrote, recorded, and distributed his first mixtape, Back to the Roots. Recruiting friends and family, the mixtape was distributed through a grassroots network in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, and Johannesburg. The disc was warmly received and opened the door to his next mixtape, The Vyndication Vol. 1, independently released in the United States and South Africa. Pelé recorded what he calls his first serious album in 2008 titled, The Verdict, which was released solely through digital distribution and features cameo's from Stic.Man of DeadPrez and long-time collaborator KJ Conteh.
Pelé has been a longtime supporter of HIV/AIDS education and awareness programs. In 2010 he partnered with MTV’s Staying Alive Campaign which used his song “Tomorrow” as part of their worldwide HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.
Living up to his moniker “Rap’s Revolutionary”, Pelé’s song “African Warrior” called for the removal of some of Africa’s most notorious leaders and dictators. The song was cited as a source of strength for a group of Tunisian protestors during the December 2010 uprising against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his government, which resulted in ousting the dictator from power as he fled the country in January 2011.