The best tribute songs for Harambe, the ape that died

He lives on in our heartfelt melodies.

Feb 29, 2020, 2:26 am*

Internet Culture

Miles Klee 

Miles Klee

Photo via dptro/Shutterstock.com (Fair Use) Remix by Jason Reed

It’s been a couple months now, and everyone still misses Harambe, the ape that was shot at the Cincinnati Zoo. We all mourn him in our own way, of course—from classic memes to grassroots activism to street art to just getting our dicks out.

But perhaps the most elegant way to eulogize the fallen primate is also the simplest: in song. And musicians the world over have written beautiful odes to Harambe, each more touching and heartfelt than the last.   

Just try not to be moved by the soulful acoustic strumming of “A TRUE FRIEND — RIP HARAMBE (TRIBUTE SONG),” which notes, “you were so big and strong / and ever since you’re gone / I can’t sleep.”

Jeff Graham’s “Harambe’s Song” is perhaps even more affecting, even though Graham pronounces “Harambe” incorrectly (it’s “Haram-bay”). “Why’d you have to die?” he sings—and we still don’t have an answer.

Opting to express his grief and sense of loss in the form of elegiac hip-hop, Matt DeHoff gives us the subtle banger “Harambe Tribute,” which moves from denial to acceptance and redemption. “Oh my god, this can’t be the end / You will live forever in my heart, my friend,” he raps.  

I’m not gonna lie—this one is less of a “song” and more of a catastrophic noise experiment. But it accurately conveys what’s happening in my heart.

Of course, all these tracks pale in comparison to the gold standard of Harambe tribute songs. Simply titled “Harambe,” from the album of the same name, Rita Marley’s reggae jam best captures the spirit of the late silverback. And perhaps most incredibly, it was recorded 17 years before he was born. Harambe was 17 years old when he died. Coincidence? Nope.

Healing is hard. Let the music help.

Update 3:57pm CT, Aug. 15: The tributes keep pouring in. Here are some more of our favorites.

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*First Published: Aug 5, 2016, 3:56 pm