El-P on Prince, his mother, and full band rap shows
Killer Mike might be the most dangerous MC spitting right now. This isn't to say that modern hip-hop lacks for dissenting, uncompromising voices or agit-prop ideas, but given the visibility the Atlanta rapper born Michael Render commands right now, he's using his platform for the most good. If new album R.A.P. Music (Williams Street) isn't quite inspiring listeners to question everything, it at least offers an impetus to start questioning some things.
Given how much contemporary urban pop aspires to jokes, parties, and idiocy, Mike essentially fills a polemic gap once occupied by artists like Ice Cube, Ice-T, Rage Against The Machine, and Public Enemy, sounding the class-war alarm for the Age of Obama. His inclination to mash up realism and political consciousness isn't anything new -- 2008's Ghetto Extraordinary was no less incendiary and navel-gazing in a thoughtfully uncomfortable way -- but new pal El-P's serrated production on Music has elevated his muse to new heights.
Gimme Noise caught up with Killer Mike by telephone Tuesday evening, on the road in Butte, Montana.
Your publicist told me that your interview schedule is totally insane right now. Roughly speaking, how many interviews have you done to promote this record and tour?
We're nearing 100 interviews so far. It could be the opposite -- it could be no interviews. I'm very grateful. It's been worth it. I'm glad that the media and the public have picked up on it.
Would you say the total dwarfs how many you'd done prior to R.A.P. Music coming out?
Yeah, it feels like it. If you get too married to the media attention, you get dependent on it. But I see this as a journey, climbing a mountain -- and it seems like things picked up a bit with the Pledge series, it showed up on some year-end lists.
The "Big Beast" video is crazy, it's totally out of left field.
Thank you! That's what we were going for.
Are you guys thinking about turning it into a full-length movie?
I'd like to have a zombie apocalypse TV show. I'm just glad to have been put something like that out there, something different from the typical rap video. I'm a big fan to Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriquez, and Rob Zombie. The video is a homage to those directors and the kind of movies they do.
Speaking of Rodriquez, have you seen Planet Terror? Serious zombie flick.
I haven't seen that yet. Saw Machete last night, though -- smokin'. Was Planet Terror good?
Definitely. It's freaky.
Okay, I'll add it to my NetFlix.
On "Untitled," you dwell a lot on death and what might happen when you die. What inspired this song?
That's exactly what I was doing. I got a little introspective, realizing that my fear isn't death, but leaving my family behind. And when I say the things I say and write songs like "Reagan
,"it could happen [before I'm ready to go].
Are you planning to vote in November?
I'm voting in November, but I'm not sure for whom yet. I'm unhappy with Obama.
In your opinion, can casting a presidential vote even change anything at this point?
Well, voting for a presidential candidate changed a lot four years ago. People put aside societal differences and united to elect a transformational candidate. Locally, voting can change things; federally, it's a different story.
"Jojo's Chillin'" is a really engaging and sharp song; he's a fun character.
In my mind, he is. He's the guy who everybody loves, stuff is always in his favor, he's lucky. I've known guys like that, I've wanted to be that guy. Everybody has a JoJo in their life.
Will we see him again?
I'm always open for a JoJo Part 2. I'd like to know what happened to JoJo after he was chillin'.
Who, in your opinion, are the most overrated rappers in the game right now?
If I answer that, I'm getting into a typical rap beef.
Okay, let's turn it around. Who's the most underrated rapper in the game?