Killer Mike’s Video Is A Powerful Statement About Protecting Black Art

In the 2010s, Run The Jewels became one of the most exciting Hip-Hop groups. Across four albums, Killer Mike and El-P reignited their careers with a boisterous sound, hard rhymes, and amazing beats. However, before 2012, Mike had a successful career as a solo artist. Ushered in by OutKast, Killer Mike made hit songs along with critically-acclaimed albums, including R.A.P.—named one of Ambrosia For Heads‘ best of the 2010s.

This week, Killer Mike made his first solo song in more than a decade. It features Dave Chappelle on the intro. “RUN” revisits his fierce work ethic while making a way for other artists. “Politicians lie and your favorite rapper is a con / Don’t check for me without a check for me, that’s a hund’ / Only L’s I wear is followed by Vuitton / Get money and the power, teach them while they’re young / Hmm, blessed to make it out the slums, run, ni**a, run,” he blasts in the first verse. Mike, who has been closely associated with Senator Bernie Sanders, does not mince words about his opinions on other politicians. In the chorus, Mike reminds that he stands for those who are not so lucky.

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The No I.D.-produced song features Young Thug, an Atlanta, Georgia artist who arguably benefited from Mike’s groundwork. Thugga is currently incarcerated along with Gunna and others associated with YSL after RICO charges this spring. Lyrics by Young Thug have been used in building a case against him and othersan issue for Hip-Hop artists and Black creatives that Mike has long been passionate about defending. The music video, directed by Adrian Villagomez, is inspired by Crispus Attucks (a Black man who many historians believe was the first person to die in the American Revolution), and other important figures of Black History and American history. It was deliberately released on 4th of July at a time when freedoms in the United States are not readily available to all Americans.

“There would be no Fourth of July without a Black man, and the fact that Crispus Attucks was the first person to die on the behalf of what would become the republic called America,” Mike said to Complex in a statement. “The fact that all Americans don’t know that is a problem for me.” He added, “I think we have a First Amendment right, and I think it should be hands-off Black art, so I support those brothers and their campaign to get a bond and get free. Just a year ago, they were paying people’s bonds who couldn’t afford bonds to get out, and I see them as community leaders and providers of jobs for a lot of people.” Young Thug and others risk losing it all at a time when so many assert their Constitutional rights.

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Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Jack Johnson, Sojourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chissem, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos are some of the other allusions made in the visual.

#BonusBeat: A 2019 interview between Ambrosia For Heads and Killer Mike, on his television show, political aspirations, and issues including Black financial empowerment: