Killer Mike “I trust my own instincts”

Killer Mike has truly cemented himself as the perennial voice of reason within hip-hop. From voicing his outrage regarding the presence of the confederate flag, to openly declaring his campaign for Georgia State Representative, it is clear that Killer Mike truly has his finger on the pulse of the cultural and social issues that are ever prevalent within society. So who better to discuss the trials and tribulations of success within the music industry?

In a fascinating interview with Pigeons and Planes entitled “Killer Mike: How I went from a pigeon to a plane“, the Atlanta MC provides a harrowing insight into the fine line between success and failure as a rapper, and the ways in which he has forged a unique business model for himself and his Run The Jewels partnership.

Detailing his rise to stardom, Killer Mike details the ways in which his image was moulded by those around him at an early stage in his career, and how he has sought to further himself from tracks such as A.D.I.D.A.S that formed the beginnings of his journey into the rap game, noting that labels such as Columbia and Elektra had labelled Mike as a “Big black guy” and looked to take advantage of his stature,  “let’s figure out how to make him a Biggie-esque type figure”. It is clear that Killer Mike had no intention of being anyone but himself, but as a young and impressionable man it is always difficult to make your voice heard, “I didn’t know how to be brave at that point, so I was trusting other people to be brave for me, which you should never do. You should be brave for yourself”.

Killer Mike also preaches a strong emphasis on having a secure and supportive group around you, which aids in the constant grind of being a part of such a cut-throat industry, particularly when it feels as if you should just give up on trying to make it big “I just know I didn’t stop. I know I wanted to stop. A couple of times my homies wouldn’t let me. Sometimes my wife wouldn’t let me. Sometimes I wouldn’t let myself, and I didn’t stop. I know if you don’t stop, something’s gonna happen.”

Touching on the success of his current musical venture with best friend and producer El-P, Killer Mike details the business model that he has taken. The Run the Jewels 2 release was distributed for free, which can be a risky move in today’s industry, but Mike has faith in his music, and faith in his fans, “I’m no business and marketing genius, but I trust my own instincts. El and I believe that if you get it (the album) and you like it, you’ll support it through buying t-shirts, CD’s or coming to the show”.

It truly is insightful to hear the rise of Killer Mike from the man himself, and to hear that he faced his own struggles with identity is a really refreshing sentiment. For someone who is such an outspoken figure in the industry today to reveal his own naivety is unique in itself, and of course it wouldn’t be a Killer Mike interview without some jewels of wisdom, “Constantly be thinking about yourself. You can’t save everybody, so save yourself first. Grind your ass off. Get rich independently.”