A Sit Down With Killer Mike – Part IV

In part four of our conversation Mike and I discuss his presence and relationship with radio, the status of Grind Time Official and exactly what is his current relationship with Pill. If you missed part one where we discussed the black community, HBCU’s, and other social matters click here. If you missed part two where we discussed the formation and success of Run The Jewels and his respect and relation with Scarface click here. If you missed part three where we discussed his split from Outkast and the importance and significance of Pledge 2 click here. Without further ado here’s part four of our conversation.

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Another question that someone asked me about in regards to you. You’re on the second wind of your career. I guess we can call it….

Yea… I would even say third.

I was kinda thinking third. How we could break it down: The Outkast years, the Pledge years, and now the Run The Jewels years.

Absolutely.

It was worded as second wind of your career. Like how do you feel? How do you sustain it? Like how did you even get here for those not aware?

Again you gotta remember who my idols are. If your idol is who’s currently on radio or that’s what you idolize then you’re gonna be in the moment. There’s nothing wrong with that. Bun said to me, “When me and Pimp called ourselves UnderGround Kings we didn’t understand the power of words and the significance that had.” While they were at Jive other people were breaking bigger things or what was perceived as bigger in music. They really became kings of the underground with the power of word. As a fan I found myself saying “y’all listen to that radio shit. I listen to UGK.” So when I say I wanna be like Bun and Face, I have to understand that with that longevity comes those years that you have to out do you. Over and over and over.

My whole career has been propelled around me out doing whoever I was the last album. I love me. I think I’m dope. I’m never gonna rest on my laurels. The day you rest on your laurels is the day that shit is over for you. So I have no laurels to rest on. Run The Jewels 2 is done. It’s a wrap. In terms of trying to impress people with my raps is over. Run The Jewels 3 or when I go back in on whatever I do next, whatever verse I do next I have to out do myself. Cause if I don’t do that, I’m letting you and myself down.

That’s an interesting way to look at it.

That’s the only way to look at it. Like who was Michael Jordan competing with? Like after he beat the Pistons, finally. I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember but I saw the Detroit Pistons kick the shit out of the Bulls two years straight. Go back and watch those games and you can see Joe Dumars and the guys handle Michael Jordan like a sucka. Not like he was a sucka but the mentality of the fucking Pistons was “We the Bad Boys” y’all just playing. Michael Jordan was formed out of that fire. After he got it, who do he have to start competing with? Himself and his own legacy. So now that I’ve crossed the proverbial I’m gonna get out the Outkast shadow. I’ve crossed the proverbial bridge of I’m gonna establish myself on my own as a solo artist. Now Michael you gotta start competing with you brother. They say Pledge 2 is the greatest Killer Mike album.

Still is in my book.

I appreciate that honesty. You guys don’t know what that does to encourage me. Because when you say that I gotta beat it. I gotta beat Pledge 2. I’ve had guys say to me “Look man as much as I love R.A.P. Music bruh it’s a classic bruh don’t get me wrong bruh but umm that Pledge 2 there bruh you ain’t never did nothing like that. I’m just tellin ya.” I have to walk away like “Got damn. I still have to outdo this fucking album.” I’m thankful for that. It pushes me further. That’s all I’m saying you gotta compete with yourself. You gotta make yourself your greatest competition. You gotta embrace that shit. It’s what’s gonna keep you better.

When Einstein discovered the Theory of Relativity he didn’t stop. He still hit that chalkboard everyday. So as a rapper if I want to have a Scarface like career and legacy I have to be prepared to constantly outdo myself. You know me and ‘Face done argued.

You and ‘Face argued? About what?

He thought the record he did with Def Jam and Kanye was the one. I told ‘Face he was crazy and Untouchable was his greatest album ever. So I know what it feels like to be a fan and be like “hold up hold up this shit right here.” I feel like that’s what drives him. Scarface is competing with Scarface. I’m competing with Mike. My goal is to never stop being dope. Rap is beautiful in that it’s a pugilistic sport. It requires mental pugilism. You’re gonna see a 50-year-old rapper in your lifetime. Eventually Jay Z is gonna do reviews in Vegas and we’re all gonna go see him. He’s gonna have some grey hairs and a tuxedo on and we not gonna give a damn cause it’s gonna be jamming.

You mentioned the whole “if you’re looking up to who’s hot on radio now you’re not gonna be around long” and that that’s not a good laurel to rest upon…

Well I don’t know if you’re gonna be around but if that’s your barometer of what I need to do to stay around and be hot…take a look Atlanta radio. Atlanta radio runs rap. You go to New York it sounds like Atlanta radio. For the last 10 years crunk movement, snap movement, the reissue of crunk movement, the singing and auto tune movement all came out of Atlanta. Every two years Atlanta destroys itself and recreates a whole new style for you to want. So if you only following only on radio for this is my lead then you only following what’s eventually gonna fade the fuck out. You gotta decide who you are and what you are and do that.

Find that lane and stick to it

Yea.

It’s funny how Dre said at The Source Awards that “The South Got Something to Say” and them niggas got booed all the way from there back to Atlanta. Yet 15 – 20 years later everybody wants to be us.

Absolutely. We knew we was cool. It ain’t a time a Southerner ain’t thought they was cool. I just wanna share that with the world. We been knew we was cool. Y’all just caught up.

Back to the radio, I don’t wanna say miss….

What? Being on the radio?

Yea. Do you miss having a radio record?

Man… I never allow myself to think about it in the context of I don’t wanna be bitter. Do I want a record on radio? Yes. Do I want a record I made from my heart on radio? Yes. Do I wanna have to comply to an unwritten rule or fad of what’s now to be on radio? I’m not willing to do that. Because that would be betraying your support of me.

Trying to think of your last set of records what got radio play. “Big Beast” didn’t get play I don’t think.

It got some

The last significant one had to be what “Body Rock” or “Kryptonite” ?

Probably but I gotta thank places like Chattanooga, Columbus, Augusta. They played different records off of Pledge. Like different secondary markets have given me love over the years. Like “Two Sides” was a record off Pledge 2. It was a record that played in the southeast. It didn’t play in Atlanta but did play in the southeast in smaller markets.

I can see why that wouldn’t get played in Atlanta. I’m in Tallahassee and FAM has a radio station. I don’t listen to radio often but when I do I choose FAM’s station simply cause they play whatever records they want.

 Yea they were one of my supporters also.

 I think I heard “Go Out On The Town” on the radio since I’ve been here.

 Yea that’s another one. That got picked up.

So you don’t miss it. You just wish you had one and if it was one it’s one that you didn’t cater to radio for?

 Yea I mean I miss…I don’t miss it in the sense of I feel bad. I miss it in that I feel like the audience misses me and I miss them. When black kids say “Damn Killer when you coming back out with something”? I have to say soon or it just came out. Then the next time I see them they say “Sorry I didn’t even know.” If you pull up my IG you see a sold out show in London. You think “Oh shit.” You don’t think Killer Mike is doing that if you’re not in the know. You’re in the know. A lot of people who only listen to black radio in particular they don’t know. That’s fine. I like having a song playing on radio but we were MTVJams Jam Of The Week. We’re over a quarter million downloads. On pace to do 75-100k units if the campaign goes strong. My goal is 100k. So who am I to complain? You don’t hear Chance The Rapper on radio. You didn’t hear Childish Gambino on radio til this year. You don’t hear Odd Future on the radio. You don’t hear Danny Brown on the radio. You don’t hear Action Bronson on radio. All my contemporaries you don’t hear on radio.

 You mention Bronson that actually reminds me… The Eric Andre Show how did that come about?

Eric is a fan and Hannibal is a fan and they’re just great dudes. Eric doesn’t have a booker call my manager. He just text me like “I want you to come on the show.” I’m like “Ok, when? Have a booker hit management and I’m down.” He never tells me what the fuck I’m gonna do til I get there. Which is why I didn’t have jogging pants. Action is usually in jogging pants or shorts so he’s more well prepared. Then they came and told us what we’re gonna do and I just fucking laughed my ass off. Then Action and I just hit a fucking a dab and that told me I’m never smoking dabs with white people again. There constitution for drugs is far more powerful than mine. I got so got damn high didn’t know if I was walking forward or backwards. Then we got on the treadmill and just had a fucking ball man. We just had fun man. I love Action to death man. You know I have a theory that Queens has produced more dope rappers than any other geographical space ever.

More than the south?

No no. The south you can look at as a whole region. I’m saying Queens,New York is literally a neighborhood. You know what I’m saying? That’s the equivalent of me saying south-west Atlanta or the fifth ward or north Memphis. Like one neighborhood has created more top-tier lyricists. It’s something special they drink in the water man. From Run DMC to Despot, I’ve never heard a whack Queens rapper. Intelligent Hoodlum…Queens. Compone and Noreaga is Queens. Queens is Mobb Deep.

Now that the wheels are turning in my head….yea

Yea. They have more than any other borough.

Something just popped in my mind, GTO (Grind Time Official) is that still in existence?

Yea we’re always here. I realized I couldn’t save all the guys like I wanted to. What we did learn was to be independent guys all together. Now we collaborate and work together. My big goal in the next few years is to reunite us together for a small tour run. We still make music together. Me, (SL) Jones, and Kevin Gates have “America’s Nightmare” together. Me and Pill have records together. Me, Big (Boi), and Pill have something together.

For me, Grind Time is still very much alive. It’s not going anywhere but I need my guys to be able to eat and feed themselves so it’s not fair to ask them to keep waiting in the wings for me. Grind Time is more about a genuine brotherhood for a group of guys I believed in than more about just being a rap crew.

I wanted to ask about Pill but wasn’t sure if I could. My boy even advised me to avoid questions about Pill and Outkast.

You can. By all means go ahead.

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And this is where we end part four of our conversation. Check back later for part five where we discuss the current situation surrounding Pill, his love and admiration for his wife, and a bit of sports talk.