Atlantas own Michael Render, better known as Killer Mike, has been on one hell of a run in the past few years. The Dungeon Family alumni is always in the news for his activism, the strong and sometimes controversial conversations he tackles and of course, his Greenwood Bank initiative. On the flip side of the coin, his stride has been unbroken since the debut of Run The Jewels, his brilliant team-up with legendary Hip-Hop group Company Flow’s super-emcee, EL-P, not to mention his latest album, Michael, that’s turning out to be his best presentation yet. The dood is still in his stride, after an 11 year hiatus between studio albums, in the middle of his verified twenty third year in the game!
He debuted as an artist in the year 2000 on Outkast’s “Snappin’ And Trappin” from their “Stankonia” album. His very next appearance, on Kast’s single, “The Whole World”, won him, and Outkast, the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. By that time he was already featured on Jay-Z’s “Blueprint 2” and was a month away from droppin’ his debut studio album, Monster. The album had appearances by Outkast, Bun B, Sleepy Brown, Slim Cuttah Calhoun, and a young T.I. among others. It peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200, no doubt bolstered by the infectious second single, “A.D.I.D.A.S.”.
Over the next eleven years, he released his influential “Pledge” trilogy that solidified him as more than just a lyricist, rather a top tier emcee, not just in the South, but everywhere in Hip-Hop. It was during those years that he developed his voice AWAY from the mic and it has since been apparent that he isn’t going anywhere. Mike met his group mate El-P in 2011 and P produced Mike’s 2012 album “R.A.P Music”. After they released solo albums weeks apart, they collabed on a tour on which they formed the absolute game-changing Hip-Hop group, Run The Jewels. Yankee and the Brave have remained a premier Hip-Hop act over the past ten years as the two have created a cult-like following to their music with fans snatching up anything the group is involved with.
Over all those years, Mike Bigga has developed his voice to be a force for positive change, away from the mic and in the broader world. His activism and social involvement have long been an influence in his music and he never hides from being about what he talks about. He has endorsed presidential and senatorial and mayoral candidates, advocated for black-owned banks through his Greenwood Bank initiative and has even stood against the NRA. His amazing experience in these areas bleed right through his sixth solo studio album, Michael.
The project, which is being called close to perfection, is described as hardcore Atlanta ghetto gospel. He shines from start to finish and it hits like the growth he has experienced, shying away from the Jerome Jewels persona of RTJ, and adopting a more mature presence on this definite front-runner for Album of 20$3. He’s sharp with the bars and technical ability, revealing his more personal side, to the point that he absolutely stands up on the track with the mythical Andre 3000, not to be stood up by the Outkast legend.
Killer Mike himself has referred to the album as his musical “come home moment”, which makes sense as he has spent the last ten years focusing on Run The Jewels. It’s right on time, featuring an all-star cast of (not just) ATL artists that puts on for the city and resonates well beyond the borders of the state of Georgia. It was made to be heard by any and all that appreciate what the region sounds like from one of its most versatile legends that will always deserve his flowers. Go stream Michael and everything else Killer Mike has given us over the past 20 years.