Rapper, activist and business owner Killer Mike spoke in an interview with Webster’s Bernie Hayes, hosted by MCISA, about the mission of his craft: to get people to live with complete freedom.
“I would like to see the world become more free,” Killer Mike said. “I know I can’t change society with my one mind and one life but I can do what I can.”
Killer Mike spent time on the road with the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. He said he owes his itch for social change to his grandparents who raised him, and the readings of civil rights leaders and political organizers who have inspired him.
He repeatedly mentioned names like James Orange, a pastor and activist in the civil rights movement that his grandmother organized for in the 1960s.
“These are the people that taught me hands-on how to go and put 100 people in a room to organize for our community and what’s needed to take the power,” Killer Mike said. “I try to stay in the movement of doing the right thing, so that way if I mess up I just say I’m sorry.”
Killer Mike is also an advocate for second amendment gun rights, a part of his activism that earned him some backlash from his fans. He said since black people have only been free for less than 100 years, he finds it unwise to give up any constitutional rights.
As a black man, he said he simply does not trust the government.
“I don’t trust an environment where you tell me my leader is tyrannical and compare him to Hitler,” Killer Mike said. “I don’t trust giving up my guns to the state.”
The backlash began after Killer Mike did an interview on a National Rifle Association (NRA) television show speaking about his support of the second amendment that juxtaposed the March For Our Lives Movement happening at the same time.
“I didn’t realize at the time that the timing was putting me in conflict, and I simply didn’t mean it that way,” Killer Mike said. “I simply did the interview to tell black people to don’t give up their constitutional rights before they have had the chance to fully enjoy them.”
Webster alum Brandon Carroll attended the event. He is part of the St. Louis chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. He said Killer Mike’s view on gun laws was refreshing from the opinions that mostly surround him.
“It’s nice to hear a logical, dissenting opinion on gun law,” Carroll said. “Especially from a person that believes that people of color need to defend themselves.”
Killer Mike started doing rap battles in Atlanta in his young teens. Now, he is one-half of rap duo Run the Jewels and has projects of his own. Run the Jewels has sold out stadiums around the U.S., opening for popular artists like Lorde.
The more Killer Mike has become involved with activism in his community, the more his rap career is influenced by it, he said. He said it’s all about the evolution.
“I’ve grown up a little bit. Life isn’t about drinking and drugging like it was for me then,” Killer Mike said. “[Now] it’s about social responsibility and accountability in a way. And still some drinking and drugging.”
Mario Colacci is a Webster student who makes music in his free time. He considers Killer Mike an inspiration of his — particularly, he said, when Killer Mike was talking about police working for the state and how all the crimes they commit are under at the hands of the state – not the police departments.
“Coming out of [the event] I actually have an inspiration for a new song,” Colacci said. “The samurai had this concept which was basically the right for the samurai to kill any commoner for basically no reason. I might make a song addressing that.”
Killer Mike said when it comes to his music, he wants to make people not only dance, but also think.
“Music should make you move your ass, but on a cerebral level,” Killer Mike said. “I just try to do what my favorite MCs did for me – and that’s to make you think. You don’t tell people what to think, you tell them what to question.”