Killer Mike Stands Up For Rap Lyrics, Pens An Op-Ed For USA Today
If Hip-Hop in 2014 needs a “Man of the year,” Killer Mike is steadily beckoning nominations.
Less than one week after a powerful, heartfelt reaction to a court decision to not indict Ferguson, Missouri Police Department Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of teenager Michael Brown, Killer Mike is taking on another issue. Since the days of C-Bo’s famed parole violation in the late 1990s, court rooms are increasingly using Rap lyrics as criminal evidence.
Later this month, Elonis vs. U.S. will be heard by the United States Supreme Court. Dating back to 2010, 27-year-old Anthony Elonis posted written lyrics social media, in Rap verse form, directed at his ex-wife. Subsequently, Elonis was sentenced by jury, to 44 months of incarceration for “communicating threats.”
In response to the increased discussion surrounding the artistic expression versus reality of lyrics, especially in Rap, Killer Mike joined University Of Richmond Professor Erik Neilsen to pen an op-ed for the current USA Today (December 1). Mike, who is currently working and touring with Gangsta Rap duo Run The Jewels, has stated his influence by Ice Cube, Geto Boys, and Above The Law, among others. Earlier in his career, Mike garnered a Grammy Award for his work with Outkast. Although brash at times, Mike’s not an artist who is traditionally scrutinized for offensive lyrics. However, the Adamsville, Georgia native is out to take a stand.
Walking through varying decisions in various cases, Mike and Erik cannot help but feel a surging trend, which they feel is not based, and discriminatory.
The editorial writes:
“…No other fictional form — musical, literary or cinematic — is used this way in the courts, a concerning double standard that research suggests is rooted, at least in part, in stereotypes about the people of color primarily associated with Rap music, as well as the misconception that Hip-Hop and the artists behind it are dangerous.
In fact, the history of Hip-Hop tells a very different story. In its formative years, for example, it was explicitly conceived by many as an alternative to the violent gang culture that consumed cities like New York. Since then, it has offered countless young men and women opportunities to escape the poverty and violence in America’s urban centers. As rapper Ice-T once put it, ‘If I hadn’t had a chance to rap, I’d either be dead or in jail’…”
What do you think?