Rapper Killer Mike stands as a towering figure of advocacy and social consciousness in the hip-hop community.
The Atlanta native was recognized for his work at the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards, taking home trophies for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance. The accomplishment was astounding for Mike, who has been a prominent musician since the early 2000s.
Unfortunately, his win was marred by his subsequent arrest, which drew attention to his political beliefs.
Over the years, Mike has become known for more than just his music. He has become a voice for the less fortunate, often speaking out against issues that impact the Black community.
“All I ever wanted to be was an emcee. God gave me what I wanted,” he told AP News. “Everything I’m called to be in addition to that, I consider just a repayment on the promise that God gave me.”
Let’s dive into Mike's most socially conscious songs, each as a testament to his unwavering commitment to sparking change through music.
Killer Mike has been socially conscious since before being socially conscious was cool. He released “Reagan” in 2012, taking aim at the government’s inability to address economic and political issues plaguing the country.
Mike dismantles the legacy of the Reagan administration, shedding light on the impact their policies had on marginalized communities. The song serves as a rallying cry for accountability and resistance against oppressive structures.
“We should be indicted for bulls--t we inciting / Hand the children death and pretend that it's exciting.” — Killer Mike ("Reagan")
“Don’t Die” (2012)
In "Don't Die," Mike once again confronts the grim realities of police brutality and racial injustice.
Mike paints a vivid picture of the struggles faced by Black Americans while also calling for the government to address the conflicts between community members and local police departments.
“I woke up this morning to a cop with a gun / Who told me that he looking for a nigga on the run." — Killer Mike ("Don't Die")
In 2014 came the release of “Early.” At the time, Mike was a member of the hip-hop group Run The Jewels – alongside producer El-P.
The song offers a searing indictment of the prison industrial complex and its devastating impact on communities of color. Mike's lyrics and brash delivery provide a glimpse into the harsh realities faced by those living in the cycle of incarceration.
“It be feelin' like the life that I’m livin' man I don't control / Like every day I’m in a fight for my soul / Could it be that my medicine’s the evidence / For pigs to stop and frisk me when they rollin' round on patrol?” — Killer Mike ("Early")
“Walking in the Snow” (2020)
At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Run The Jewels released “Walking In The Snow.” The track emerged as a powerful commentary on systemic racism and the Black experience in America, which was given center stage following the death of George Floyd.
Killer Mike's impassioned delivery and incisive lyrics confront issues of police brutality, white supremacy, and the urgent need for societal change.