Killer Mike Casts A Different Perspective On Kanye’s Meeting With Trump (Video)
Killer Mike and Kanye West are two early 2000s Hip-Hop contemporaries. While Mike came up under Outkast and the famed Dungeon Family in Atlanta, ‘Ye was attached to Jay Z and the Roc-A-Fella Records boom. Both artists were introduced as different kinds of Rap stars as they transitioned from memorable contributions to others’ albums, into their own major label catalogs, care of 2003’s Monster and 2004’s The College Dropout
It has been 15 years since Mike Bigga appeared on the Kanye-produced “Poppin’ Tags” from Jay’s The Blueprint 2 double album. However, the Run The Jewels co-founder had some interesting views recently, when he was asked about the political motives of his peer and collaborator. Channel 4 in the United Kingdom asked Mike for his thoughts on Kanye’s late 2016 Manhattan meeting with then-President-Elect Donald Trump.
Mike states that he is not bothered by the meeting. “Why wouldn’t you [agree to meet]?” Mike replies, questioning why somebody would refuse such an invitation. “Black people shouldn’t have permanent friends or enemies, they should have permanent interests. If it wasn’t for Dr. Martin Luther King being willing to meet with people like [Alabama Governor] George Wallace, George Wallace would have not have ended up—starting as a racist bigot [and ending] as a person who found God in some way, [and] appointed more Blacks to his office than any other governor since him. So I maintain hope that all human beings can [change].”
Seated beside El-P, Mike continues, that in wider context, Kanye’s meeting should mean less to those interested than Donald Trump’s meeting with civil rights activist and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Jim Brown. “A musician meeting a presidential candidate isn’t important to me like Jim Brown. Jim Brown, for the last 50 years, has fought against the oppression of all people. Him sitting with President Trump was a significant thing for me, because I know on the other side of the table he was telling the truth.”
Later in the interview, at 9:20, Killer Mike draws comparisons of what’s happening in the United States to ongoing issues in Russia and India, for example. Regardless of location or nationality, Mike urges all to, “I just encourage people who are the proletariat in [countries with divides] to push past nationalism, find people who are not like you, are not of your religion, are not of your skin culture or color, [and] befriend those people. Ally with those people. See the commonality in human beings.” He adds, “Get out of your homes. Be active locally, politically, where you can. If you have potholes on your street, go complain to your local government. Bigger than that, associate, ally, and befriend people who don’t look like you, people who are not culturally like you… the only way to destroy your walls of bigotry in race, sexism, or any phobia is to start to meet people who are not like that.”
Later in the interview, Mike clarifies that he does not believe all 2016 Trump voters are bigots or “ultra-nationalists.” He instead says, “They were scared people who don’t have jobs.”
Earlier this year, the week of Inauguration Day, Run The Jewels performed with Zack de la Rocha in Washington, D.C. “It don’t matter who won. The day after tomorrow, this is our motherfucking country,” Mike told show-goers. “I don’t give a fuck who’s President. This is our country. And what will keep this republic going is truth. It’s honesty. Integrity, love, and democracy. We will not fall victim.”
In the last year especially, Killer Mike has committed himself to civil interests. In the wake of courts failing to convict law enforcement officers for the killing of Black men and women, Mike was instrumental in a local and nationwide charge to withdraw finances from major banks, and into Black-owned banks. Furthermore, the owner of Swag barbershop encouraged people who support justice, human rights, and racial equality to support businesses owned by people of color. Mike was instrumental in the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, who met several times with the Adamsville rapper.
For more than a decade, Killer Mike has woven politics into his music. Songs like “Reagan,” “Burn,” and R.T.J.’s music video for “Close Your Eyes” have all dealt with criticism of oppressive government and law enforcement.
“I’ve been an activist for over 25 years of my life,” Mike tells Channel 4. “So my real life is revolved around real issues that I care about. Music gives me an escape from the gravity of them, and at the same time gives me an opportunity to speak socially, not politically. I’m not married to any political ideology or philosophy as much as I’m married to the proletariat: the people just like us, and making sure we’re treated fairly socially. Ultimately, I just want people to know that they’re born free, and music gives me an opportunity to do that. And activism…when I’m just a regular middle-class ‘Rap Dad’ husband with kids, I get a chance to go into the community, because I’m a rapper, and bring that cache into the community and help causes. My life is that duality. My music is…I don’t pontificate based on the fact that I’m an advocate. I do that more in music just to say social things to make people think.”
Later in the interview, El-P and Killer Mike speak on Run The Jewels’ challenging the mainstream conventions of what a Hip-Hop group may look like, in terms of its multi-racial makeup and age. Mike calls giving away R.T.J. music away for free an “unwritten agreement with the fans” encouraging them to support artists in other ways.