Killer Mike: To The East, Blackwards

What do you know on Killer Mike? Certainly, if Big Boi’s promises paint

the game with his Purple Ribbon, the world will know much more about his Outkast’s Monster. But Mike’s first outing was lost in a sea of Bonecrushers, Bubbas, and Cool Breezes to many listeners that tuned in. Monster might have been an overstatement for Killer Mike’s first album, but this Georgia-bred rhymester is his own person.

In an age where critics attack Southern rappers for lack of principle, Killer Mike shows his deep influence from equal parts Marcus Garvey, Bambaataa, and your hood street hustler. After a healthy discussion with AllHipHop.com on Black people and Africa, Killer Mike justifies his thug, his age, and his first album.

AllHipHop.com: Talk to us about the Purple Ribbon label. How is it working for you, and how are you dealing with the split ? well, not split…

Killer Mike: No, it’s a split. It’s definitely a split.

AllHipHop.com: Okay.

Killer Mike: [It] just ain’t what Dre had at heart. Not that he didn’t love music, or that he ain’t a cool dude, but running a day-to-day business ain’t where his heart is at. That can be very stressful on an artist, and be very strained and, you know, I don’t know if dude feel everything that’s coming out over here.

AllHipHop.com: What do you mean?

Killer Mike: We know he ain’t satisfied with music right now. But Big Boi is, and he chose to take the flag, change the logo on it, call it Purple Ribbon and mash with something that was very much Big Boi’s and Dre’s.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about the music. I hear you’re bringing out some African style.

Killer Mike: Oh, you mean “Akshon”. Well, I’m African. I mean, not in the most literal sense, but I mean that’s our identity is shaped in America by slavery. We tend to think of our existence starting here, but it ain’t where we started. And [it’s important to remember] that we got somewhere else to go. You know, Ludacris showed ’em that by shooting a video in South Africa.

AllHipHop.com: Respect due, but he showed a resort glimpse of South Africa. There’s much more than met the eye.

Killer Mike: Yeah, but it’s start. It’s more than what any other n***as done with that budget. Look at what have we done to promote Africa. Like what have we done to reach out? You know, like why is MTV in Africa before BET? You know, and that’s no criticism on BET. That’s just what it is.

AllHipHop.com: Right.

Killer Mike: What I’m saying is we Black people. Like you hear rappers talk all the time about making trips to the south of France, to Amsterdam, to Mexico, to Jamaica. You know what I’m saying? A n***a don’t go ’cause a n***a ain’t interested. I just happen to be interested in my people, wherever we go. I love Black people in Panama. I love Black people in Venezuela, Columbia, Cuba. You know what I mean? I’m just in love with Black people, and I don’t hide it. I’m in love with all of us – from the n***as to the Blacks to the Negroes to the Toms, too.

AllHipHop.com: Does your heritage date back to Ghana?

Killer Mike: Naw, my heritage doesn’t go back to Ghana. My heritage go back to Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama. Hopefully, I have enough money and resources to trace it back to where it originally came from, but Ghana is less about the literal country of Ghana and more about just not being afraid to be in touch with one’s self, and where we from. You know, the lyrics, I ain’t preaching to no n***as. I’m not telling, you know, we all gotta go back, get this s**t together.

AllHipHop.com: Word.

Killer Mike: “Take off ya gold chains,” I’m tellin’ n***as, kings is wearing the gold chains in Ghana. The diamonds in South Africa – n***as is drivin’ the business over there. I wanna see what’s happenin’. It’s money there. Let’s go get it. Like it’s beautiful, f**king women in Africa.

AllHipHop.com: Have you been to Africa yet?

Killer Mike: I have not been yet. That’s why I’m saying I’m gonna go.

AllHipHop.com: Where’s your favorite foreign place you’ve been thus far?

Killer Mike: My favorite country thus far, has been Jamaica.

AllHipHop.com: Why?

Killer Mike: I didn’t expect nobody to know me out there. I jumped off the plane – it was weed smoke. And it was just, man, it was just – it was beautiful, the resorts and all that, but I got – I paid this little kid named Dre to just take me around and lead me around. And dude just showed and taught me so much that I just fell in love with the people and with the environment, you know what I’m saying? Like being able to go out into the open air markets and eat fish that was fresh out of the water and smoke weed. To not even have to worry about being sprayed on. It was just a sort of freedom, like I didn’t have to have on a chain to be “that n***a.” It was like all Black, so it was like, “God, I woke up in n***a heaven.”

AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about strip club culture in the South…

Killer Mike: Down here, it’s about making money, having nice things, women, cars, you know, if it come to the violence, it come to that. But that ain’t our first priority in the South. That’s what n***as down South was about. Strip club culture’s always been important in Atlanta and Miami, in particular. They actually wrote a song about Magic City, you know. It’s just – that’s a part of our culture like the guy who owns the Blue Flame, like probably the oldest Black-owned strip club in this city, longest standing, who right in my neighborhood, you know.

AllHipHop.com: How old were you the first time you took that rite of passage?

Killer Mike: Went to my first strip club at 15. The first time I heard one of my songs, it was in a strip club. In Atlanta and Miami, strippers are less about the strippers, and more about the social environment. ‘Cause women and men go – it’s a 55 to 45 male to female to ratio.

AllHipHop.com: Right, that is unique.

Killer Mike: You know, stripping now is like what hustling, rolling, or trapping, whatever you choose to call it. It was in the early ’90s. It’s presented as like a easy way out for girls. [Unfortunately,] a lot of girls get f**ked up, caught up in the lifestyle, caught up on dope, alcohol, whatever. Just like n***as who was trapping eight, nine, ten years ago got caught up. Too much weed, ecstasy, that kind of s**t. So, you know, it’s a false promise in a lot of ways, ’cause, you know, no hustle lasts forever.

AllHipHop.com: But that’s only one outcome.

Killer Mike: The flip side of it is, you know, the girls who smart about it, they flip the s**t in the businesses, they flip the s**t in the music video, they flip it in the acting, or they’re not doing it no more. [If] you benefit from it, fine – but, you know, if you’re grind, grinding you, and you ain’t grinding the grind, you gonna get left behind. So it’s just like any other hustle.

AllHipHop.com: Has the growth of stripping culture made it harder on Rap chicks? I mean, Foxy and Lil’ Kim seemed to arrive at a time without mainstream stripping culture…

Killer Mike: It was major then, y’all just weren’t paying attention. See, a lot of times, man, the two media outlets here – and it’s not an accusation in terms of I’m mad at nobody – but the two media outlets are New York and Los Angeles. It’s been going down. If it weren’t for the strip clubs, Kim wouldn’t be popular, because that’s where they were playing Hardcore – in the strip clubs. And because they play Hardcore in the strip clubs, n***as bought Kim’s record. [Stripping] was taken out of Atlanta, and they sprinkled it, put their Harlem on it, put their Brooklyn on it, and they sold y’all the s**t. And that’s what it be, so, if anything, it helped – ’cause them girls loved dancing to a woman who’s empowered by her sexuality. You know, Kim is to Hip-Hop what Millie Jackson is to Soul.

AllHipHop.com: Word. So speak on the overall feel of your album?

Killer Mike: It’s just the s**t. You know, for your Cadillacs and your Chevrolets, man. It’s everything that’s good about Southern music.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think people missed out on what you’re first album had to offer?

Killer Mike: Yeah, of course they did, ’cause they missed it. Because the perception was, “How can a n***a who new in the gang speak on these topics?” But, you know, I been following Hip-Hop probably since 1983. So I ain’t gotta make five records about how the n***a dope, and how I’m the n***a in a trap, and I was rolling and hustling hard before I make, [the song about how] I don’t wanna sell dope no more. I really was f**king selling dope when I got a record deal. So my natural inclination is to goddamn say I don’t want to do this s**t no more. I wanna rap now! So my thing is, n***a’s perception was you a new artist, but I’m not a new n***a. I’m a grown ass man. This is a record a n***a five, six, seven, eight years in the game would have, or should have made.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think Hip-Hop needs an age-limit?

Killer Mike: Man, ain’t no age limit on relevance. Like I dreamed of the day where you will see n***as is 40 and 50 [making records]. You look at Jay-Z, mid-30’s, showing no signs of slowing down. I mean, how does a n***a do a tribute song to the summer? You have to have had ten summers. Ten summers is ten years. I don’t know why n***as think 30 is old. 30 ain’t bad. You young enough to buy fly clothes; you old enough to f**k grown women. That’s a good thing.

Related Stories