Killer Mike: You Can’t Kill Me

Missed opportunities, bungled promotion, poor timing; all the aforementioned are just a few of the reasons a promising rap career can find itself stalled. Michael “Killer Mike” Render knows this intimately. The once star nouveau Dungeon Family delegate won a Grammy with OutKast (“The Whole World”), dropped an underappreciated debut (Monster) and nevertheless rolled with […]

Missed opportunities, bungled promotion, poor timing; all the aforementioned are just a few of the reasons a promising rap career can find itself stalled. Michael “Killer Mike” Render knows this intimately. The once star nouveau Dungeon Family delegate won a Grammy with OutKast (“The Whole World”), dropped an underappreciated debut (Monster) and nevertheless rolled with Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon only to have his sophomore effort (Ghetto Extraordinary) never be released by the label. While Internet savvy fans were recently able to finally cop his second album [Ed. Note: Do yourself a favor and find The Killer mixtape], Killer Mike has refused to become a rap footnote off sheer will. Since late 2006 the Atlanta rapper dropped the critically hailed I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind (which formally introduced his Grind Time Rap Gang crew), hosted a show on comedic web portal Super Deluxe (Killer Mike’s Grind Time Sports Show), done voice acting work for the Cartoon Network (Frisky Dingo, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and in late 2007 aligned his Grind Time Official label with Bay Area based label SMC Recordings. The result, Killer Mike refuses to have his influence perish before he can bring his A-Town style rap lyricism to as many ears as possible. What’s been up, what’s been going on?Killer Mike: Man, I fell off. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and came back up. How did a brother from Adamsville get down with SMC in the Bay Area?Killer Mike: What it is the dude Will [Bronson] he used to be a writer and he’s an A&R over there. The dude just got an incredible love for dope music. Instead looking at it like we signing regional acts, he looks at it like the people he signs are regional powerhouses. When you look at the [Mistah] F.A.B.’s, and the Messy Marv’s, the San Quinn’s out there, those people are known globally for that area. I don’t even think a lot of times we know how far we go. Like I went in a bar in Amsterdam and I was hearing my s**t.Will, he found the music. He did a deal with [Pastor] Troy. Troy people got in touch with one of my mans, and the rest is history. I really like the business model that they had over there. Where I was in terms of being in the underground, I was on some s**t like, I’ma make sure me and my crew get what they deserve. I’ve had numerous conversations with good friends like Chamillionaire, the homie Paul Wall, Slim Thugga, because they really came out of that independent movement. Then I started talking to people like Jimmy [Jones] in the early days Dipset, like four or five years ago. Jimmy gave me a lot of grind advice and I just started applying it. Doing my thing, self-distributing on the underground, doing one stop distributors and s**t, and it attracted attention. Ya know, SMC wasn’t the first company that came to me. Koch came to me first. [But] they were in the middle of blowing up, the roster got real heavy. Alan Grunblatt was very cool but I really wanted to be somewhere where me and my company could grow, and grow exponentially; not have to wait at all. I’ve had too much of that. So I didn’t want just a situation for me. I wanted a distribution situation for the company Grind Time and me being the first artist off that company. The dollars and the business made sense so here we I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II will be released through SMC, is it done yet?Killer Mike: Nah, I’m working. I got records done. But I look at with I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind ??, on this one I wanted to really expand what I was doing in terms of…I’m cool with a lot of people in the industry… Not cool on no homeboy s**t, cool like I love their music, they love mine. On this one I want to have Mr. F.A.B. and Yukmouth, on this one, Trae, 8Ball & MJG, Bun B. Florida, you got everybody poppin’ in Florida now. I’m really trying to show people that this ain’t the next movement of these four or five cats and they just want you to be on they s**t. I really f**k with what’s going on in The Bay. I really f**k with what’s going on in Texas. I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind II is about showing that the grind is national. It’s not just local. It’s not just doing petty ass drug deals on the block. It’s about if Mistah F.A.B. has his thing going and he’s a leader there, and I have my thing in Atlanta going, then why shouldn’t we unite and make dope music and make sure that people from the A and The Bay can kick it and conglomerate in the clubs and what not? Ultimately that’s what I want to see. I’m reminiscing of when the Geto Boys and N.W.A was dealing with one another. I’m not one of those artists that left a major label and got soft and got mad. I really looked at it as an opportunity to build something. Atlanta has no underground and that’s what Grind Time is about to become. As well as pushing back out major records. It’s exciting to me. So are you completely off Purple Ribbon?Killer Mike: I’m off. I’m out and I didn’t have to pay a dime. Ever, I don’t have to pay nothing for none of my albums and that’s very rare in the record business. I want to thank Big Boi for that. I appreciate it. Have y’all spoken?Killer Mike: We spoke about a month ago. I can’t speak from his side in terms of all of his feelings and his emotions around me. But Big Boi and Dre provided me with an opportunity to totally change my life. I’m forever in their debt for that. I always consider them the greatest group ever. It was a good experience for me. All I ever wanted was off. And once I got off, we good. Ya know, some people can be divorced and be better friends than they can married. My goal is to be on the same platform of OutKast and bigger. My goal isn’t to forever be the third unofficial member or to be someone who had his glory days with them. I’m really looking forward to popping up on the stage in the same places as them and proving what they knew when they first signed me is right; this kid is a star. How did you hook with Super Deluxe?Killer Mike: It’s two brothers, Daniel and Nick Wiedenfeld. They cool as as s**t. I met Nick first who was over at a few shows at the Cartoon Network. He has the David Banner show [The Crook’d ‘Sipp], The Boondocks, things of that nature. He has a younger brother named Daniel and Daniel is over at Super Deluxe which I guess is like the internet sister to Cartoon Network. Daniel and I, we like interesting music, we go out, drink, have fun and we got to talking about just the ridiculousness of young African-Americans and our legal woes when we get money. We got to talking about the hypocrisy of sports and we said, “Hey man, let’s do a show about it.” And it turned into this Grind Time Sports Show, which really isn’t about sports as much as it’s about the personalities surrounding sports, music and entertainment. So I guess it’s my meager attempt to do Bill Maher (laughing). I think Hip-Hop needs more of that. People have to expand. I saw one of my idols, Ice Cube, expand into doing other things. Also, I do Frisky Dingo. That was the first show I started doing. 7030, that’s the production company, those guys are the ones that ushered me into doing voice work and Daniel and Nick pushed it on through. I did voiceovers for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I’m hoping to get into something else man cause I really enjoy being able to  be free of having to rhyme what I say… [answers phone call…Killer Mike “Aye-O”]That was the boy No ID man. He’s actually executive producing the next major album, the one that’s going to be on a major label. As an artist you be on a label…the s**t that supposed to be happening, not happening…you get angry, you from the neighborhood and you be wanting to do that neighborhood s**t, that dumb s**t. He [No ID] was one of the people that said, “Hey man, you need to study Kanye, you need to study this.” He and I have similar ideologies and philosophies, he was able to help me re-center. Otherwise my separation from Purple Ribbon probably wouldn’t have been as amicable. Even though it wasn’t as amicable as it could have been, it wouldn’t have been that amicable. And then [No ID] got some new opportunities and it made sense for us to clique up and do our thing. Beyond him being the No ID now that everybody know from Kanye song [“Big Brother”], Resurrection is one of the records that helped changed my life. There’s certain records that happened in my lifetime that really made an adjustment to how I approach music and that record was one of them. I look at certain people, I want to impress them enough to want to work with me. I don’t ever want a Dr. Dre beat. I want to impress Dr. Dre enough for him to want to work with me. I don’t ever want a Premo beat. I was happy when Premo called me and said, “Yo, I’m playing five of your songs on my show, I want to do a beat with you.” I never wanted to be in the position of going to somebody and saying, “What is it going to cost?” I always want it to be, “I respect that kids work ethic, I see something in him, I’d like to help him along.” Got a title for the next major label album yet? Killer Mike: 16 In The Kitchen. And what’s up with Ghetto Extraordinary?Killer Mike: Actually, I got a message over MySpace man, there’s a fan that got a copy. She said she was going to post it up. I was like, Cool…you need a drop?  (laughing) I ain’t going to lie man it happened at a time where I was really kind of mad, s**t I got this great record over there. She hit me like, Would you mind? Nah, I wouldn’t honestly. I even here there’s a “My Chrome” video that Big Boi and I shot with Hype Williams and Malik Syeed that’s floating around online. The person that hit me, it tripped me out. She knew more about that s**t than I did. That really just shows you the progression in terms of Internet and things of that nature it really gives power back to the people so I’m really thankful for that medium. Did you ever drop “Get Em Shawty” as an official single?Killer Mike: Yeah we did. It was up to 4, 500 spins independently. Sony decided they didn’t like the single, they cut it off at the knees and ran with “My Chrome.” I liked “My Chrome,” but check it out, when we went out to do “My Chrome” we went out every morning on the Tom Joyner Tour for 19 straight dates but Big Boi didn’t make one taping. So “My Chrome” got no radio support and “Get Em Shawty” got radio support with no one working. So that’s what’s never going to happen again. How was your experience meeting Louis Farrakhan during the BET Awards weekend?Killer Mike: It was overwhelming man. Mr. Farrakhan has been a tremendous influence in my life the last 12, 15 years. The only way I can describe it to people is, I likened it to the woman who met Jesus, who just wanted to touch his hand. He really has been a messiah like force in my life. Meeting him was genuinely overwhelming. I wept from the time I sat down and saw him to the time I spoke to him. The next night, I’ll never forget this, he hugged me and kissed me and told me, “I love you brother.” To be recognized by him is just a very humbling and it calls you to a certain duty. I’m blessed and thank God I got a chance to meet him.