One of hip-hop’s more outspoken emcees, Killer Mike is not one to bite his tongue. He’s been vocal when speaking about politics (Check his Pledge mixtape series), on the state of black America (check his Twitter timeline), and where his music is being played (B.E.T. tried to ban one of his videos). TheGrio sat down with the Grand Hustle rapper to get his thoughts on Frank Ocean coming out, Ms. Melodie’s passing, and Obama’s first term.
Where is Killer Mike at, career wise?
You know definitively with R.A.P. Music is a classic arguably with the Pledge, but I think that my career is on the upswing you know with the exception of Scarface, I don’t know any rapper that’s 9 , 10 years in the game and his catalog is progressively progressing. You know by trajectory as kid what I thought I wanted to be as a rapper is what I’m becoming, better with craft. My craft is becoming better with time.
Do you think that your sound is reflective of the era you grew up in?
I think my sound is reflective of my love for rap music. If its rap music, I’ve pulled influences from every golden era of rap period, but even further than that i think my music is just reflective of the African-American experience and the country. I take as much jazz and gospel and soul as I do from hip-hop. I think that hip-hop is the perfect combination of all those things. When I say on the title track ‘I Aint Got No Instruments,’ I just got my hands and feet, that was inspired by Nina Simone. Umm so you know my music is inspired by every black musician that has touched the mic, just musicians period. I am just a part of that bigger music experience.
Do you think that it would help a lot of rappers to look to other genres of music for more inspiration?
I think they already do. I think they need to claim it. I love and respect the hell out of Quincy Jones, but he has been saying rap music is not real music for 20 years of my life and I’ve been disagreeing with him for 20 years of my life because Smoky Robinson, he knows how to play the keys and write songs. He wrote some of the most beautiful music that we all know, but I argue so does Ice Cube and SO DID Chuck D. I argue that rap producers were the first to take jazz keys and put them over them over metal guitars and match that with synthetic bass and create something totally new that was getting made out of something that was getting made all over the world, computers.
How does Killer Mike’s music fit in the current sub genres of rap?
I think that I am one of the few rappers that has the privilege of being who I really am on and off the microphone and that’s just a blessing. I don’t question it anymore. I don’t know why it’s me, but I deal with the good and bad that comes with that.