TOP 5 DEAD OR ALIVE: Killer Mike

Atlanta-bred lyricist Killer Mike is known for spewing knowledge both on and off the microphone. During last year’s AllHipHop Social Lounge, moderated by our own Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur, Killer Mike wowed the audience with his witty, street, yet educated point of view. He’ll admit that its taken some time to realize that being smart is also cool.

The former Morehouse scholar can engage in a discourse of a wide variety of topics from politics to the streets to Hip-Hop. So of course when it comes talking about his Top 5 Dead or Alive Emcees, expect nothing less but the realest.

This list of artists is also indicative of Killer Mike’s versatility, which is evident on his album I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind Part Two, which is in stores now. Killer Mike recently joined forces with T.I. in a joint venture so the King of the South recognizes Mike’s talent. Its not a stretch that Mike names himself as an honorary member of Hip-Hop’s elite. He beckons doubters to listen to three specific songs: “Good-bye,” “Pressure,” and “Woke Up This Mornin’.”

The Preface:

“The way I regulated my list was, rappers that no one ever threw a stone at, with the exception of maybe one. Nobody ever f**ks with these rappers because you know their going to f**k your life up,” says Killer Mike.

Andre 3000

Killer Mike: Andre 3000 is southern lyricism; he is the blueprint for a southern lyricist. Whether you’re talking about B.O.B or Bobby Creekwater, two great up-and-coming MC’s out of Atlanta, their absolutely wonderful, Andre 3000 is in their DNA; he’s in the DNA of all of us. He’s only preceded by 8 Ball and MJG. He is the standard of southern Hip-Hop in terms of being cool and early in his career in terms of that dope boy type shit.

He has all the superstar qualities of a rapper; the girls like him and when he puts a turban on his head guys want to be like him. He’s smooth, his music is impeccable, introspective and he’s so around the corner educated. He is our Langston Hughes rap wise. Langston took the language of the common people and he made intellect so simple, easy, emotional and valuable that equals people from all levels; from working class and all the way up. So Andre 3000 works on all levels.

Killer Mike suggests: ATLiens album.

Cee-Lo Green

Killer Mike: Actually as a rapper, Cee-Lo Green is better than Andre 3000. Bar for bar at being introspective, whimsical, funny, everything as an MC. He never took himself outside of the human experience. Cee-Lo said I wonder if they put the gates up to keep the crime out and our a**es in, that’s the type of s**t you discuss at the barbershop. The thought of separating humans according to class, that’s something you done heard about at Morehouse when I was there, you hear about at Howard; but that s**t is on a rap record.

This is the same guy that has such a beautiful musical voice, but he gave over ten years to rap before he used it. Nobody ever tried him and nobody ever will, because bar for bar he will crush, he will kill. Cee-Lo Green is the epitome of what an MC is. He will get on stage, he will grab a microphone and for the next two hours, you will be duly entertained. You will not only be entertained, you will be edu-tained.

Killer Mike suggests: Still Standing [Goodie Mobb] album.

Eminem

Killer Mike: I know a few people have named Eminem, a lot of them were just d**k sucking, they just wanted to name another rapper that was better than them. They’re d**k riding because it’s a white guy and it would be cool to say. I say Eminem because bar for bar he is the super manifestation of super rapper. He attempts and succeeds at cramping so many syllables at different times. If you’re not talking about Kool G Rap or Big Punisher, you’re not talking about anyone else in this league. When you talk about the speed knot flow, the precision, the harmony within the flow, because Eminem uses harmony a lot too- people don’t give him his credit for that.

I love Eminem because he made us understand what the white kids who were attracted to the energy of rap, what their life was like. Beyond that, he confident enough in his own skill to sign an artist who could have possibly overshadowed him, had he been a weaker ego of man like a lot of the black contemporaries are. He was so passionate about making sure rap is still dope that he signed 50 cent. He is the prototype of how every rapper slash fan should be, someone who loves rap enough to do what’s right by rap. Him giving the world 50 cent, he did what was right by rap and I really mean that.

Bar for bar no one is touching him, bar for bar no one is fucking with him and dudes know it. He does his white boy shit and pulls me into another world. Eminem takes me to not only Detroit and Eight Mile, but what it’s like to grow up f**king crazy and white in America. Now that’s dope music!

Killer Mike suggests: The original “Renegade” Featuring Royce da 5’9.

Scarface

Killer Mike: No one has talked about death like Scarface; he talked about the human toll of death. From the black community you get used to death lines you can hear his mama crying, his mama said why yall take my baby away. But when Scarface talks about a father having to identify his son, as a man you feel weak when you cannot protect your own flesh. When he said they want peace in our community, but ain’t no open opportunity for unity, he talks about they killed Martin Luther King because he had dreams. He talks about by the time you finally figure out the science of life you’re owned, your mind done cracked and you done gone crazy. That’s real, that’s stuff that only someone who is truly mentally disturbed can write. He’s writing from a place of hope and hopelessness at the exact same time and that’s bigger than self pity.

If you’re talking about that gangster s**t and I don’t mean that shoot ‘em up bang bang, I mean that what it’s like to be in sixth grade and the teacher tells your mom your selling dope like Face rapped about. Also and this is not to offend, because we have a lot of legends and a lot of egos. When you’re talking about who has consistently played great not good, name a 20 year veteran whose music in this particular way has been relevant all the way through. Scarface fans can name you a record on every Scarface album, his core audience is devoted; he has grateful fans and the bulk of his core audience are rappers.

I remember watching the “greatest of all time” Jay-Z, on television doing an interview with Toure’, talking about Scarface. When you’re the greatest commodore in the world, who makes you say wow he is great and Scarface is that. He is the bar for a great rapper. Fans argue over who the greatest rappers are, the greatest rappers argue over Scarface.

Killer Mike suggests: Untouchable & The Fix albums.

AZ

Killer Mike: AZ is the perfect hybrid of Jay-Z and Nas; he has all the swagga, the flavor and a damn good dresser. Nas is one of the sickest dressers in the game and he has all the slickness and fly s**t of a Jay-Z of a Big Daddy Kane, of a Brookyn fly n***a. He has the mental of the Five Percent(ism) and the Egyptian mysticism of Nas or the Queens movement. I think AZ is on tier with Nas and Jay-Z, it’s only because of beat selection and one producer producing the whole album that he don’t get his just due.

I don’t think that anybody wants it with him and I don’t think anybody wants it with anyone I named on this list. The s**t he says is just phenomenal, he use words like their women, words just bend themselves to dude, it’s like they love him. I looked at the line when he said ni**gery caligraphy. Who the f**k thinks to say that? When you think about gutter and ignorance, you think of the word n****r. When you think of beauty and opulence, you think of calligraphy. Who says I’m gonna put them on a date in the middle of my verse? That’s why n****s don’t want it with him.

If Jay-Z and Nas are the ying and yang, he is the lining in the circle that connects them. Dude is absolutely amazing!

Killer Mike suggests: Doe or Die or S.O.S.A (Save our Streets AZ) album.

The Side Bar: Currently Killer Mike is working on a compilation album, Underground Atlanta Volume One, which features everybody from Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, to Grind Time Rap Gang, and many others. He is also working on the Grind Time Rap Gang album with S.L. Jones and Gangsta Pill. Grind Time would like to follow in the footsteps of Rocafella and The Diplomats back in the day [minus the drama of course] in regards to their music and movement!

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