Don’t you just love it when you see an independent artist making major power moves? Killer Mike is not only causing a lot of noise, but doing so without a publicity stunt, a gimmick or by following a trend — just straight up guerilla marketing.
As you know, Killer Mike is a Grammy Awards winner that came up through the ranks of Outkast family. He is a righteous, real People’s Champ, and a true representation of the South. Since venturing out on his own, Mike has been leaving his mark everywhere.
He’s opened a new chapter in his career, which has presented him with a movement called Grind Time, which fittingly stands for Get Rich Independently Time. Grind Time Official/SMC Recordings recognizes his vision, enabling him to use his gift to its fullest potential. We all know that hip-hop is in dire need of a voice that can lift us up during these hard times in the world.
Killer eases up off the grindstone for a few minutes to talk with BallerStatus.com about his Grind Time movement, his latest album I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II, and more.
BallerStatus.com: You’ve haven’t been pigeonholed as a south, east or west coast rapper. How is that?
Killer Mike: I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve never tried to hide my influences. When people have asked me what influenced me, I didn’t only name southern artists, so I could cater to the south, and I didn’t only name east coast guys to get New York to accept me, and I didn’t say west coast — because I know I sound a little bit like Ice Cube — I just told the truth. If you ask who influenced me, I’m going to tell you 2 Live Crew, Rakim, Kane, Too $hort, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Scarface. I’m so engulfed in hip-hop, faithfully! I’ve been so reared in this that I’ve become a world citizen. I’m as accepted in Compton, California as I’m in College Park, as I’m in Crown Heights. Anywhere I go, I go in the spirit of humility and in the spirit of being thankful that I’m there.
BallerStatus.com: Talking about southern lyricism, a few people like 50 Cent talk about having to dumb-down their lyrics to appeal to the south. What are your thoughts on remarks like those?
Killer Mike: I think 50 appealed to the whole globe with the southern style. I think 50 is the greatest elevation that southern music can sell globally and it can be a driving force. Southern music is about not only dope lyrics, but having those lyrics with a particular swag and having certain melodies and rhythms. I think 50 did a great job at picking up the lessons of the south. Honestly, he was the predecessor to how huge the south movement is now. He didn’t invent the style we had, it was a southern style. You can hear that style in Pimp C. You can hear that style, especially, if you listen to 50 Cent’s first record and if you hear Young Bleed’s first record — the lazy style with the clever delivery is apparent in both records. 50 maximized it to its fullest potential, and he’s a brilliant man for doing that. I got a lot of respect for the homie. But I really think his career and the prosperity that he’s had shows how effective the south can be. As a southern artist, I’m going to take that as one to learn on and one to grow on, and I’m going to keep doing dope southern sh**. I know this sh** can sell 10 million records. 50 proved that a southern style could outsell any other style. So I want to thank him for that.
BallerStatus.com: A lot of New York artists have grown frustrated because radio stations like Hot 97 are playing down south music, but not playing Corey Gunz, or other dope up-and-comers from New York.
Killer Mike: I was just having an interesting conversation about Corey Gunz, in particular. I was talking about how dope he was, and I joke about who New York chooses to get behind. I’m not from New York, so I don’t know the idiosyncrasies of how they pick people to get behind, but my thing is you got guys like Hell Rell, JR Writer, 40 Cal, Corey Gunz … guys just sitting up there who are bona fide spitters. They’re retarded. Yet, you’re not getting behind them and not making sure the world recognizes them. I think New York should get behind their dope artists. The last people New York got behind are extremely successful. I don’t really know the problem with New York, but I can’t much say I care. I care about New York as the mecca of hip-hop, but I don’t care about n****s wanting me to ride their d***.
BallerStatus.com: That’s true, New York is the mecca…
Killer Mike: To say that southerners bite New York by just being rappers, you negate the fact that the so-called godfather of rap, James Brown, is from Augusta, Georgia. You forget that the whole 80s movement, which was sponsored by James Brown — was put together by James Brown — who was from the south. So if the roots of rap are really in James Brown, then the roots of rap are really in the south. But we never disrespected New York when we were on the bottom. We never got smart or got out of line. We handled ourselves accordingly and we made dope music. We kept New York as our icons, and we paid them homage. I think people need to watch their mouths. I think we all need to consolidate around hip-hop and what’s dope, no matter where it’s at. I support anyone pushing hip-hop forward, but if we’re not pushing hip-hop forward on a united front, then we’re going to keep hearing wack records. Not only from southern rappers, but from New York rappers, also. It’s less about each region, and more about what’s real.
BallerStatus.com: Weren’t you excited to see that Lil Wayne sold a million records his first week? What do you think about Tha Carter III?
Killer Mike: I think Wayne did an amazing feat in selling a million records. I think Tha Carter III is good enough, but in terms of musically, I think Tha Carter II is an absolute classic. Everybody that just jumped on the Lil Wayne bandwagon, go back and get Tha Carter II. It’s an absolute classic. I’m not going to d*** ride and act like Tha Carter III is. It’s a good album, but Tha Carter II is an amazing record.
BallerStatus.com: You talk about God in a lot of your songs. Obviously, you are a man of faith, so what exactly is your religion?
Killer Mike: I was raised by Christian grandparents and accepted the Lord at 16, took my shower. But as far as the answer to your question, I don’t know really. I recognize all the prophets. The father of the three major religions had two sons Ishmael and Isaac. He had one by his wife and one by a mistress. Those two boys were brothers, so therefore, I recognize all of Abraham’s seeds and I read all three books: The Jews, Christians, Muslim — The Bible, the Qur’an, and the Torah. As to what religion I am, I am not. What I am is a descendent of Abraham, so I recognize all those prophets and all those books.
BallerStatus.com: So, do you study the different scriptures a lot?
Killer Mike: My grandparents raised me in the south, so I had no choice. When I went to Morehouse, I studied religion and philosophy. I have always been curious as to God … you need an answer to undeserved suffering, you know, so I start right there. I see beauty in everything He has created. I see beauty in humans and the power of free will where we can accept Him for the God who made us. I can honestly say I am in love with how wonderful as He made me and how He made other people like that, so I try not to question Him.
BallerStatus.com: The song, “God In The Building,” from your new album is very powerful…
Killer Mike: “God In The Building” is a record that talks about me being an ex-drug dealer and rapper. Old women tell me, “You shouldn’t be rapping, you should be preaching.” What a nice thing that God would use a lil black boy from the hood to move people. I don’t understand the gift I have; I just know that God put it in me. If I had a choice, I would probably dumb-down and do what’s easy, but I don’t have a choice. I am motivated by something else.
BallerStatus.com: Switching gears, whom do you consider the best rapper or best rap group of all time?
Killer Mike: The best group of all time is OutKast. The best rapper of all time is Scarface tied with Ice Cube. Them two probably influence more of your favorite rappers than anybody else. Jay-Z, me and The Game all say how they influenced us. They are just as explosive today as they were back then. No disrespect to anybody that has been in the game 15-20 years, but if one of them drop any album, then I am going out to buy the ‘Face tape or Cube album, and I will always buy the Outkast albums.
BallerStatus.com: What is going to make somebody buy this new Killer Mike album?
Killer Mike: First off, it’s pure rider music. If your sh** is shining and beating then you need to get this. My music is not about me, it is about us — our struggles to maintain to get money and shine and make sure your sh** is straight, make sure your children is straight. So, you should buy my record ’cause my record is about your struggles too. My record has less to do about me and more to do about you.