Killer Mike: Time is Money Part One

An old adage warns procrastinators “Time waits for no man.” Atlanta born and raised MC Killer Mike has lived this first hand. After guest appearances on his mentors Outkast’s Stankonia LP and Grammy Nominated “Whole World,” time seemed to stand still. That was, of course, until 2003 when he, along with Bonecrusher and T.I., turned […]

An old adage warns procrastinators “Time waits for no man.” Atlanta born and raised MC Killer Mike has lived this first hand. After guest appearances on his mentors Outkast’s Stankonia LP and Grammy Nominated “Whole World,” time seemed to stand still. That was, of course, until 2003 when he, along with Bonecrusher and T.I., turned the Atlanta club anthem into a requirement for sporting events, video and radio Top 10 countdowns worldwide. Shortly after, he released the Gold-certified debut album, Monster.

For present day Killer, it would seem as though father time is still having trouble synching his watch. He’s had a lot to think about (it will be four years since Monster’s release) and finally knows what time it is – Grind Time. Less than 24 hours after hearing a subliminal diss from a member of his former crew, Purple Ribbon All-Stars, he recorded and released his retort “I Promise I Will Not Lose.” When Killer’s not in the studio putting the finishing touches on his highly anticipated sophomore album, he is either doing press or taking care of his Grind Time Records imprint. Time is money – he plans to spend it wisely. In the first part of a 2 part interview, Killer Mike spoke with about his family’s history, the present state of his career and Hip-Hop, and how he plans to use the grind to shape our future. It’s time for a new leader. From our understanding, you’re still dealing with the majors. Now you have the side business, and your doing so well you think “Why am I not doing this well with the majors?” You think, “Maybe I’m not a valued employee at this company.” Is there a time when you respectfully sever ties and move with your own company?

Killer Mike: That’s exactly what happened with me and Purple Ribbon. I don’t wish Purple Ribbon no ill, but we’re competitors now. If there’s a radio spot left and it’s between us, I’m pushing for me. I think what happened with me and Purple Ribbon was less about me not being appreciated as an employee. It was more about trying to treat everybody fair, but, the world ain’t fair. We all want everybody to have a chance and everyone who has been riding with us to get a chance and all that. That’s we all want, but that’s not the way it really is. In the real world, passion, desire, and tenacity gets you to the top and I left Purple Ribbon because that wasn’t being rewarded. I didn’t care about being appreciated – I cared about having my hard work rewarded. If I’m not top priority and there’s not superior urgency behind whatever I’m doing, then I don’t need to be there. Is that the same policy for any major deal now?

Killer Mike: I have proven I can come in number 10 on the Top 200 on the Billboard charts – undershipped. I have proven that I can sell 500,000 records. I have proven that I can leave a successful company [Sony] – at the time they still successful in rap with Lil’ Flip and other artists – and get more media coverage than I did there. I’m proven I can sever ties with one of the largest rap groups ever and not be viewed as a has-been or sidekick. I understand what the rules usually say, but I’m here to say that I’m an exception to every rule. I’m an exception to the sidekick rule. I’m an exception to the “fat guy ain’t marketable” rule. I’m an exception to every f**kin’ rule ‘cause I talk to people at their core. I speak to people’s appetites, I speak about the struggle, I speak about the grind. And that’s something far different then what any other artist is doing. It seems like you are embracing the role model/leader mentality. Usually rappers shy away from that with “I’m not a role model.” Here, it sounds like you are taking a stance as a voice for the people. Is this an accurate assumption?

Killer Mike: It is, Mike. See, I heard a lot of rappers, and it angered me, say “I’m not a rapper, I’m this, I’m that…” And I kept saying why wouldn’t n***as want to be a rapper? When I was young, that’s all we wanted to be; because those were the only people who told us the truth. [Ice] Cube, Spice-1, Scarface, Phife, Dre, Luke, K-Solo told me the truth. Now, we’re in an environment where it’s “just ignore the s**t, have a little fun.” Rappers have become partners in the pimping of their own people, rappers have becoming nothing more of a motherf**kin’…. all rappers are MC Hammers now. “If you put a bucket of chicken in my motherf**kin’ hand, I’d dance for you.” And that’s no personal take on Hammer the person, that’s just saying the image of Hammer in the early ‘90s. I do not want Stanley to feel like I’m coming at him, for real. I have a lot of respect for that man – he came out his trunk. What I’m saying is every rapper got a bucket of chicken and a smile on his face.

They don’t know to do, how to fight the power or do any of that because they didn’t enter the situation as a man. And that’s what I represent – I’m a leader based on the fact I’m a man. I’m a Black man that comes from nothing that’s supposed to matter in this country and people know I’m that I’m the consummate underdog. Mike the individual and what Mike represents. And if people are willing to get to behind me, why wouldn’t I be willing to lead them? If people are will to pick up the torch of hard work and down to grind, I’m gonna tell them “Hell yeah, you’re supposed to shine!” Buy your diamonds, bling, floss out – because you work and commitment into it. I don’t want to leave a music career with a bunch of dead songs for you to listen to. When you were broke you were listening to me and 20 years later you’re still listening to me broke. That’s no good… I don’t want you to do that. I’m not gonna wait for success to find me, I’m gonna hunt it down. I’m not gonna wait for you to like me; I’m going to get in your face and ask you to make the decision. Then why isn’t this being promoted? Why are you one of the few who are brave enough to say these things?

Killer Mike: You know why? You can put this is all capital letters: ‘CAUSE I’M A REAL N***A, FOR REAL. A lying motherf**ker is gonna do you like a politician. A lying ass n***a is gonna tell you something slick in your ear and he’s gonna do the right thing. He’s gonna make you a hoe – every single time. Just like the government do ya, just like private institutions do ya, just like your f**kin’ jobs do ya – they’re always gonna seek to pimp you. You gotta look it at like 80-85% are dumb as a motherf**ker – they don’t know s**t. They’re just out here trying to grind, they’re purposely kept ignorant by the educational system, they’re personally lied to by their job and their politicians. Then you got 10% of motherf**kers out here who don’t give a f**k. They know the right s**t to tell people to help themselves, and s**t on them every time. Then you just got about 5% of the motherf**kers out here who are willing to do real s**t and be a real n***a about their s**t, for real… I guess I’m just one of them five. It’s just enough, man. It’s enough for letting people think crack is still selling… man they giving dope away. Hell yeah a n***a can give you a $16,000 brick now: ain’t no addicts to smoke the s**t! You find me 16 smokers – with money. Now, if you talking 16 pill heads, I can give you that times two. You are the new addict – that’s what people need to start waking up and seein’. “Hold up, maybe I need to pump the breaks a bit.” They find a build a whole other everything off your back again… just like they built their prisons off crack convictions. They destroyed our families off of crack convictions. They tore our big brothers, our uncles, and our fathers away from us with crack convictions. They took our mothers away with crack addictions… And here we go, setting it up for the motherf**kin’ second one. Everybody in the ‘80s and ‘70s was singing about cocaine and how fun it was. I’m not gonna tell you that this stuff’s not been a part of my life. What I gonna tell you is that its an other side of that motherf**kin’ horizon – and you better be looking and planning for it.