Killer Mike

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Killer Mike
Killer Mike 2014 Treefort Fest.jpg
Killer Mike performing in 2014.
Background information
Birth name Michael Render
Also known as Mike Bigga
Born (1975-04-20) April 20, 1975 (age 41)
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, songwriter, actor, activist
Years active 1999–present
Labels Grind Time, SMC, Grand Hustle, Williams Street, Fool's Gold, Mass Appeal Records
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, actor and activist 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. He has since released five full-length albums as a solo artist.

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 Records and released their self-titled debut in June of that year.

Killer Mike is also known as a social and political activist, focusing on subjects including social equality, police brutality, and systemic racism. In addition to addressing themes of racism and police brutality in his music, he has also delivered several lectures at college universities, written about social justice topics for publications such as Billboard, and been the subject of televised and published interviews regarding police misconduct and race relations. He is a visible and vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders during his 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

Killer Mike has been featured in the films 20 Funerals, Idlewild and ATL.

Musical career[edit]

1995–2005: Early life and career beginnings[edit]

In 1995, 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", which won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.[2] He was also featured on several other tracks that year, 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.[3] 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.[4]

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[3] and by the Atlanta Braves for their 2003 season.[5]

Killer Mike performing in May 2008.

2006–2012: Pledge series and R.A.P. Music[edit]

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.[6] Originally recorded in 2005, the album was eventually self-released as a mixtape in 2008.[7][8]

Killer Mike's second official album, I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind, was released on his own Grind Time Official label in 2006, followed by I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II in 2008.

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 2008.[9][10] He released his fourth official album, PL3DGE, on Grand Hustle in 2011.

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.[11][12] Although neither album was released as planned, 2013 and 2014 did see the release of two Run the Jewels albums, both collaborative efforts between Killer Mike and EL-P.[13][14]

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.[12]

2013–present: Run the Jewels[edit]

Killer Mike (left) and El-P (right) as Run the Jewels at Treefort Music Fest in 2014.
Main article: Run the Jewels

Killer Mike was introduced to rapper/producer El-P by Cartoon Network executive Jason DeMarco in 2011.[15] The following year, El-P produced Mike's album R.A.P. Music and guested on the song "Butane (Champion's Anthem)". That same year, Killer Mike guested on El-P's album Cancer 4 Cure. When R.A.P. Music and Cancer 4 Cure were released within weeks of each other, the two rappers decided to tour together. The success of the tour eventually led to the decision to record as a duo, which they named Run the Jewels.[16]

Run the Jewels released a free eponymous album on June 26, 2013.[13] The next year, on October 28, 2014, Run the Jewels released their second free album, Run the Jewels 2.[14] On September 25, 2015, the duo released a re-recorded version of Run the Jewels 2 made entirely with cat sounds, titled Meow the Jewels.[17] A third album, Run the Jewels 3, is planned for release in 2016.[18][19]

Other ventures[edit]

Acting[edit]

Killer Mike has been featured in the films 20 Funerals, Idlewild, and ATL. He has also performed as a voice actor, playing a rapper/actor, turned President of the United States, named Taqu'il in the Adult Swim cartoon Frisky Dingo from 2006 to 2008.

Graffitis SWAG Barbershop[edit]

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.[20]

The barbershop is decorated with artwork on the walls honoring historic black leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. 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. Mike also said that he hoped to pursue his own barber license in the winter of 2012.[20]

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 premiere for The Boondocks and serving as the setting for several music videos. A second location in Tampa, Florida was planned for 2014.[21][22]

Activism[edit]

Killer Mike is an outspoken social activist focusing on subjects including social equality, police brutality, and systemic racism.[23] His views are reflected in his music, as well as in 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."[24] 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" from his album R.A.P. Music,[25] and the song "Early" on Run the Jewels 2.[26][27]

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."[28]

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."[29]

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.[30] Fan-shot footage of the speech later went viral.[31]

Commenting on the 2015 Baltimore riots related to the death of Freddie Gray, Killer Mike noted that he understood the frustrations leading to violent demonstrations, but encouraged protesters to use their energy to organize for lasting change. In a Billboard op-ed, Mike stated:

"For the people of Baltimore — I don’t criticize rioting because I understand it. But after the fires die down: organize, strategize and mobilize. Like Ferguson, you have an opportunity to start anew. I don’t have a solution because whoever’s there will have to come up with it. But we need community relations: riots are the language of the unheard."[32]

He made similar points in an interview with the Harvard Political Review: "Baltimore is an opportunity for us to do something different. As society, there’s a real opportunity to organize there, and if we do not take full advantage of the opportunity to organize, then the riots truly meant nothing."[33]

Killer Mike has given lectures about race relations in the United States at several American universities, including New York University[34] and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[35][36]

Political involvement[edit]

In June 2015, Killer Mike briefly ran as a write-in candidate to become the representative for Georgia's 55th district in the Georgia House of Representatives. Despite encouraging voters to write in his real name, Michael Render, any votes he received would not have been considered valid due to his failure to previously register as an official candidate in the election.[37][38] Killer Mike stated that his purpose in running was to raise awareness of the special election, and to demonstrate that political outsiders can and should run against established politicians.[39]

Killer Mike introduces Bernie Sanders at a November 2015 campaign rally in Atlanta

Killer Mike announced his support of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in June 2015 after Sanders announced his intention to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[40] After introducing Sanders at a rally held in Atlanta November 23, 2015,[41] Mike spent time recording an interview with the presidential candidate. Mike released his interview with Bernie Sanders as a six-part video series the following month.[42][43]

In the following months, he remained an active and vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders, delivering speeches at rallies, voicing support in televised interviews and on social media, and traveling with the campaign.[44][45] In February 2016, Killer Mike received criticism during his activism for Bernie Sanders for quoting American anti-racism and LGBT advocate Jane Elliott regarding Hillary Clinton, which was criticized as misogynistic and mistakenly attributed as being his original phrasing online and in the press.[46]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums
Compilations
Run the Jewels (with El-P)

Awards[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
2003 "The Whole World" (with Outkast and Joi) Best Rap Performance By a Duo or Group Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bush, John. "Killer Mike Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Past Winners Search". Grammy.com. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b D'Angelo, Joe (June 24, 2003). "Blink-182, Outkast, Bone Crusher, Joe Budden Score Tracks On ‘Madden 2004′". MTV.com. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Killer Mike - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  5. ^ Drake, David (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. 
  6. ^ "Killer Mike: Beautiful Struggle". XXLmag.com. March 3, 2006. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ Steiner, B.J. (November 2, 2014). "Killer Mike "Ghetto Extraordinary" (2005) - A Listener's Guide to Killer Mike and El-P". Complex. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  8. ^ Cohen, Ian (February 12, 2008). "Killer Mike: Ghetto Extraordinary". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 17, 2015. 
  9. ^ Arnold, Paul (December 8, 2008). "Exclusive: Killer Mike Confirms Signing With T.I.". HipHopDX.com. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ Bark, Theo (December 16, 2008). "Killer Mike Signs With T.I.'s Grand Hustle Entertainment". The Boombox. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ Ryon, Sean (March 21, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Killer Mike Reveals "I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind IV"". XXLmag.com. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Tardio, Andres (March 21, 2013). "Killer Mike Preps "Pledge IV" & "R.A.P. Music II"". HipHopDX.com. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Killer Mike & El-P "Run The Jewels" Release Date, Tracklist & Album Download". HipHopDX.com. June 23, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b "Killer Mike and El-P Detail Run the Jewels' RTJ2 Album, Announce Tour". Pitchfork. September 2, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  15. ^ Weingarten, Christopher R. (October 24, 2014). "Run the Jewels: 2014's Brashest Rap Duo Comes Back From Oblivion". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  16. ^ Kelley, Frannie (November 11, 2014). "Run The Jewels: 'I'm Taking This Life'". NPR - Microphone Check. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  17. ^ Grebey, James (September 29, 2015). "Five Thoughts About ‘Meow the Jewels,’ Because How the Hell Would You Actually Review This?". Spin.com. Retrieved October 7, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b DeVille, Chris (December 11, 2014). "Work On Run The Jewels 3 Begins Next Month". Stereogum. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Gordon, Jeremy (May 14, 2015). "El-P Previews Run the Jewels 3". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Physioc, Heather E. (July 2, 2012). "Killer Mike's Barbershop in Atlanta, GA - Graffiti's SWAG". Barber-Schools.org. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  21. ^ Howard, Marcia (November 17, 2014). "Killer Mike's Graffiti's SWAG Barbershop". Bevel Code. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  22. ^ Garland, Maurice (June 30, 2013). "Rapper Killer Mike Redefines 'SWAG' with Barbershop". Black Enterprise. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  23. ^ Balfour, Jay (April 20, 2015). "How Killer Mike Became Rap’s Most Influential Political Leader". The Urban Daily. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  24. ^ Shepherd, Julianne Escobedo (May 8, 2012). "Killer Mike, Venerable Rapper/Activist, Talks New Album, Drug War, and Maybe Running for Office". Alternet. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  25. ^ Killer Mike (May 15, 2012). Reagan - R.A.P Music. Williams Street Records. 
  26. ^ Run The Jewels (October 28, 2014). Early - RTJ2. Mass Appeal Records. 
  27. ^ Eakin, Marah (May 15, 2015). "Run The Jewels release dark, stark new video for "Early"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 18, 2015. 
  28. ^ Barshad, Amos (August 21, 2014). "Killer Mike, J. Cole, and Hip-Hop’s Response to Ferguson". Grantland. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  29. ^ Killer Mike (August 19, 2014). "Op-Ed: Killer Mike on the Problems Underlying the Chaos in Ferguson". Billboard. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Killer Mike's pre-show Ferguson Grand Jury speech". YouTube. November 24, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2015. 
  31. ^ Petridis, Alexis (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. 
  32. ^ Killer Mike (May 1, 2015). "Killer Mike Baltimore Op-Ed: 'I've Watched Geraldo Rivera and Wolf Blitzer Pander to the Audiences of Oppression'". Billboard. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  33. ^ Mulholland, Quinn (April 29, 2015). "Killer Mike on the Baltimore Riots". Harvard Political Review. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  34. ^ Proctor, Bertram (March 24, 2015). "Killer Mike Talks Oklahoma Fraternity, Systemic Racism". NYU Local. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  35. ^ Brown, August (April 20, 2015). "Rapper Killer Mike to lecture on race at MIT". LA Times. Retrieved April 22, 2015. 
  36. ^ Loftus, Jamie (April 27, 2015). "Here's Killer Mike's MIT Talk on Race". Boston.com. Retrieved May 1, 2015. 
  37. ^ Funke, Daniel (June 15, 2015). "Rapper Killer Mike wanted to run for Georgia state representative". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  38. ^ Lacey-Bordeaux, Emma (June 16, 2015). "Killer Mike to Georgia voters: Pick me! ... Oh wait". CNN. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Killer Mike plots political agenda ahead of Georgia state election". The Guardian. June 16, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 
  40. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (June 29, 2015). "Killer Mike Endorses Bernie Sanders for President". The Guardian. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  41. ^ Kreps, Daniel (November 23, 2015). "Watch Killer Mike Introduce Bernie Sanders With Moving Speech at Atlanta Rally". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  42. ^ Stuart, Tessa (December 15, 2015). "Watch Killer Mike's Six-Part Interview With Bernie Sanders". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  43. ^ Talking Shop With Bernie Sanders & Killer Mike
  44. ^ Bromwich, Jonah (January 8, 2016). "Bernie Sanders Has Killer Mike in His Corner". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2016. 
  45. ^ Rodgers, Ian (February 1, 2016). "When rappers feel the Bern: The impact Killer Mike and Lil B can have on Bernie Sanders' campaign". McGill Tribune. Retrieved February 24, 2016. 
  46. ^ McCarthy, Tom (February 17, 2016). "Sanders campaign defends Killer Mike using 'uterus' quote about Clinton". The Guardian. Retrieved February 23, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]