2014 Outside Lands Music And Arts Festival - Lands End Stage - Day 1

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Killer Mike turns 40 today, and, as we can imagine he has been for years, he gets to celebrate 4/20 doubly because of the occasion. It’s been something like 15 years since Mike trickled onto the music scene through an association with Outkast, specifically Big Boi.

After pounding out half-a-dozen albums in a nine-year span between 2003 and 2012, Mike is more popular than he’s ever been as half of the duo Run The Jewels. Like his current partner in rap, El-P, Mike is twice as old as many of the hip-hop artists prone to climb the charts in 2015. But in a different, Killer Mike demands attention. As long as he’s been in the public eye, he’s been fiercely intellectual but the world is getting to see that side of him in a different setting these days. Mike has a knack for folding radical activist politics in his music, but he’s also proven himself a savvy pundit as an academic lecturer, op-ed writer, and interviewee. Over the last few years especially we’ve seen Killer Mike’s voice expand, not because he’s changed, but because his audience is growing.

The popularity and cultural significance of Run The Jewels seems to have grown beyond the imagination of either rapper and as solo artists neither Mike nor El-P ever commanded the audience that has earned them a recent spread in Newsweek, a series of Marvel comic book covers, or an opening spot for Jack White at Madison Square Garden earlier this year.

RTJ’s music is out there and easy to find (and legitimately free), but for Killer Mike’s 40th birthday we wanted to honor his recent streak as a political leader and activist outside of the booth. From his heartfelt reaction to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson to his upcoming lecture at M.I.T. about “Race Relations in the US,” here are some of the moments that have continued to set Mike apart as a legitimate rapper-activist over the last several months.

Killer Mike’s Essay On The Killing Of Michael Brown 

“We are human beings,” Mike wrote on Instagram shortly after news broke of Michael Brown‘s death in Ferguson last August. “We deserve to be buried by our children not the other way around. No matter how u felt about black people look at this mother and look at this father and tell me as a human being how u cannot feel empathy for them. How can u not feel sympathy for their pain and loss. These are not ‘THOTS, n-ggas/n-ggers, hoes, Ballers, Divas.’ These two people are parents. They are humans that produced a child and loved that child and that child was slaughtered like Game and left face down as public spectacle while his blood drained down the street.”

Read the full piece on Killer Mike’s Instagram account here.

An Op-Ed In Billboard About Systematic Injustice

“I have searched all night and day for new and better words that could express my feelings and fear for the people of this country,” Mike wrote for Billboard less than two weeks after Michael Brown’s murder. “I found no new words. I have no hope-filled insight to deliver. I only have this warning to all Americans: Whatever this country is willing to do to the least of us, it will one day do to us all.”

Read the whole thing on Billboard here.

Killer Mike On CNN: “Our Rights Are Being Violated”

Killer Mike Appears On Fox News: “Watching The Watchmen”

Killer Mike Reacts To Ferguson Grand Jury Decision In Pre-Concert Speech

Killer Mike Appears On CNN In December, Blasts Darren Wilson

Run The Jewels Release “Close Your Eyes” Video

Killer Mike Speaks At NYU, A Recap

Read a full recap of Killer Mike’s recent lecture at NYU here.

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