Killer Mike

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Killer Mike
Killer Mike.jpg
Killer Mike performing in May 2008.
Background information
Birth name Michael Render
Also known as Mike Bigga
Born (1975-04-20) April 20, 1975 (age 40)
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, Songwriter, actor
Years active 1999–present
Labels Grind Time, SMC, Grand Hustle, Williams Street, Fool's Gold
Associated acts Run the Jewels, Bun B, Dungeon Family, OutKast, Pill, SL Jones, T.I., Yelawolf, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross
Website Killer Mike on Myspace

Michael Render (born April 20, 1975),[1] better known by his stage name Killer Mike, is an American hip hop recording artist and occasional actor from Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder of Grind Time Official Records, which he launched through the SMC and Fontana Distribution. Mike made his debut on "Snappin' and Trappin'", from OutKast's 2000 LP Stankonia, and later appeared on the Grammy-winning song "The Whole World", a single from OutKast's greatest hits album Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast.

In December 2008, Mike confirmed he signed to fellow Atlanta-based rapper T.I.'s Grand Hustle Records. In 2012, he released R.A.P. Music, produced entirely by American rapper-producer El-P. In 2013, the two subsequently formed a duo, branding themselves Run the Jewels. The two signed to Fool's Gold and released their self-titled debut, in June of that year. Mike has been featured in the films 20 Funerals, Idlewild and ATL.


In the mid-90s, Killer Mike briefly attended Morehouse College, where he met producers The Beat Bullies and eventually Big Boi of OutKast. His music debut was a feature appearance on OutKast's "Snappin' & Trappin'" from the 2000 album Stankonia, followed by their 2001 single "The Whole World" and several other features including "Poppin' Tags" from Jay-Z's The Blueprint 2.

Killer Mike released his debut album, Monster, in 2003. The album's lead single was "Akshon (Yeah!)", which featured OutKast on guest vocals. A remix of "Akshon (Yeah!)" was included on the soundtrack of EA Sports' video game Madden NFL 2004.[2] The album's second single was "A.D.I.D.A.S.", featuring Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, which peaked at #60 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is Killer Mike's highest charting single to date as a lead artist.[3]

Following the release of his own material, he appeared on "Flip Flop Rock" and "Bust" on the Speakerboxx half of OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album. He also appeared on "Southern Takeover" with Pastor Troy on Chamillionaire's CD The Sound of Revenge. Killer Mike appeared alongside T.I. on the song "Never Scared" by Bone Crusher in his album AttenCHUN!. It peaked at #26 on the Hot 100, becoming Mike's second top 40 hit ("The Whole World" being the first). The song was also used on the Madden NFL 2004 game soundtrack[2] and by the Atlanta Braves for their 2003 season.[4]

What was to be his second album, Ghetto Extraordinary, had its release date pushed back several times due to disputes between Big Boi and Sony Records.[5]

According to an article published in the June 2007 issue of XXL, Killer Mike addressed why he left the Purple Ribbon roster. He stated that he felt as if Purple Ribbon was the equivalent to the "Clippers," while he wanted to join the "Lakers."[citation needed] T.I. later announced that he and Killer Mike had been in talks about bringing Mike to his Grand Hustle imprint on Atlantic, and Killer Mike confirmed that he had signed in December of 2008.[6][7]

Killer Mike has also performed as a voice actor. He played a rapper/actor, turned President of the United States, named Taqu'il in the Adult Swim cartoon Frisky Dingo from 2006 to 2008.

In 2013, Killer Mike announced that he was working to release two albums in 2014, I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind IV and R.A.P. Music II, both of which were to feature production by EL-P.[8][9] Although neither album was released that year as planned, 2014 did see the release of the first Run the Jewels album, a collaborative effort between Killer Mike and EL-P.[10]

Killer Mike also announced in 2013 that his next solo album would be titled Elegant Elephant, a project he described as his "Moby Dick". He did not specify a timeline for its release.[9]

Run The Jewels[edit]

In 2012, Killer Mike formed an association with rapper/producer El-P, who produced Mike's album R.A.P. Music and guested on the song "Butane (Champion's Anthem)". That same year, he guested on El-P's album Cancer 4 Cure. In 2013, they formed the duo Run the Jewels and released a free album of the same name on June 26.[10] The next year, on October 28, 2014, Run the Jewels released their second free album Run the Jewels 2.[11]

The new album release has come with many promotional efforts. The group has started a Tag The Jewels movement where graffiti artists from around the world tag their rendition of the RTJ2 album cover. The cover features the album's hand gesture of a gun pointed at a fist clenching a gold chain.[12] Also, on their website they released a number of preposterous pre-order packages valued up to 10 million dollars.[13] A kickstarter group was formed to fund the Meow The Jewels pre-order package for $40,000. The funding was reached and El-P and Mike, as well as additional producers, have begun work on a re-recorded version of RTJ2 made entirely from cat sounds.[14]


Killer Mike opened a barbershop in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, Shana Render, on November 1, 2011. The two acquired and reworked a barbershop and named it "Graffitis SWAG" (Shave, Wash And Groom). He had waited nine years before choosing to open the barbershop, after having an early business manager advise him against the plan. It took his wife advising him to do it now while he had the time and money to pursue his lifelong dream. He eventually plans to open 150 shops across the United States over time, predominantly in cities with large black communities. The barbershop is decorated with artwork on the walls honoring historic black leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King. Killer Mike said that he hopes to "lift up men in the community who are out of work and help move them toward sustainable, lifelong careers" and give his employees "opportunity for real economic elevation." As of 2012, the shop employed six barbers, with plans to add four to six more licensed barbers to the team. Killer Mike also said that he hoped to pursue his own barber license in the winter of 2012. Graffitis SWAG Barbershop is located at 3461 Roosevelt Highway, Suite 316, Atlanta, Georgia.[15]

The enterprise has been successful, and the shop has become a gathering place for the community, in addition to hosting events such as a season premier for The Boondocks and serving as the setting for several music videos. A second location in Tampa, Florida was planned for 2014.[16][17]


Killer Mike is an outspoken social activist focusing on subjects including the for-profit prison system, police brutality, and same-sex marriage. This is reflected in his music, as well as interviews with the media. As a publicly viewed figure, Mike feels it is his responsibility to represent African-Americans: "I feel I have to be politically active and I have to be a credit to my race."[18] He has been vocal on the subject of police misconduct, his father being a former police officer. His anti-brutality sentiment can be found on the song "Reagan"[19] from his album R.A.P. Music, and the song "Early"[20] on Run the Jewels 2.

In response to the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown controversy in Ferguson, Missouri, Killer Mike said "I'm appalled that regular Americans are apathetic. I'm appalled that people choose to use the word 'thug' as a code word for 'n-----.' I'm appalled at everyday citizens... When will we, as an American constituency, tell our politicians enough's enough? Enough mayors supporting murderous police departments. Enough police chiefs having to give excuses for murderous police officers."[21] In an op-ed published in Billboard magazine, Killer Mike stated that "there is no reason that Mike Brown and also Eric Garner are dead today -- except bad policing, excessive force and the hunt-and-capture-prey mentality many thrill-seeking cops have adapted."[22]

Killer Mike and El-P performed at The Ready Room in St. Louis on November 24, 2014, the same night that the Grand Jury verdict was announced stating that Darren Wilson would not be charged with a crime in the shooting of Michael Brown. Killer Mike opened the set, which began about two hours after the announcement was made, with a heartfelt speech.[23] Fan-shot footage of the speech later went viral.[24]

Killer Mike has given lectures about race relations in the United States at several American universities, including New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[25]



  1. ^ John Bush. "Killer Mike Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Joe D'Angelo (June 24, 2003). "Blink-182, Outkast, Bone Crusher, Joe Budden Score Tracks On ‘Madden 2004′". Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Killer Mike - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  4. ^ David Drake (January 29, 2013). "Bone Crusher f/ Killer Mike & T.I. "Never Scared" (2003) - The 30 Best So So Def Songs". Complex. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Killer Mike: Beautiful Struggle". March 3, 2006. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ Paul Arnold (December 8, 2008). "Exclusive: Killer Mike Confirms Signing With T.I.". Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ Theo Bark (December 16, 2008). "Killer Mike Signs With T.I.'s Grand Hustle Entertainment". The Boombox. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ Sean Ryon (March 21, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Killer Mike Reveals "I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind IV"". Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Andres Tardio (March 21, 2013). "Killer Mike Preps "Pledge IV" & "R.A.P. Music II"". Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Killer Mike & El-P "Run The Jewels" Release Date, Tracklist & Album Download". 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  11. ^ "Killer Mike and El-P Detail Run the Jewels' RTJ2 Album, Announce Tour". 2014-09-02. Retrieved 2014-11-19. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Meow The Jewels Is Happening". Stereogum. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Physioc, Heather E. (2012-07-02). "Killer Mike's Barbershop in Atlanta, GA - Graffiti's SWAG". Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  16. ^ Marcia Howard (November 17, 2014). "Killer Mike's Graffiti's SWAG Barbershop". Bevel Code. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  17. ^ Maurice Garland (June 30, 2013). "Rapper Killer Mike Redefines 'SWAG' with Barbershop". Black Enterprise. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  18. ^ Shepherd, Julianne. "Killer Mike, Venerable Rapper/Activist, Talks New Album, Drug War, and Maybe Running for Office". Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  19. ^ Mike, Killer (May 15, 2012). Reagan - R.A.P Music. Williams Street Records. 
  20. ^ Run The Jewels (October 28, 2014). Early - RTJ2. Mass Appeal Records. 
  21. ^ Barshad, Amos. "Killer Mike, J. Cole, and Hip-Hop’s Response to Ferguson". Grantland. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  22. ^ Killer Mike (August 19, 2014). "Op-Ed: Killer Mike on the Problems Underlying the Chaos in Ferguson". Billboard. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Killer Mike's pre-show Ferguson Grand Jury speech". YouTube. November 24, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  24. ^ Alexis Petridis (February 26, 2015). "Run the Jewels on hip-hop's golden age, playing Ferguson and America's civil rights problem". The Guardian. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  25. ^ August Brown (April 20, 2015). "Rapper Killer Mike to lecture on race at MIT". LA Times. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  26. ^ Chris DeVille (December 11, 2014). "Work On Run The Jewels 3 Begins Next Month". Retrieved April 21, 2015. 

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