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Killer Mike has undoubtedly settled into the role of a pundit for the black community. Largely unapologetic and always assured in his thought process; the rapper, businessman, and social activist is well-known for a no-nonsense approach to politics and social issues, constantly rallying against partisanship and encouraging black Americans to dig deeper when it comes to policy.
It was only fitting that as he sat down at the REVOLT Summit x AT&T in Los Angeles in October, he was joined in conversation by former TMZ staffer Van Lathan, whose own firm stances on politics were at the root of his untimely firing from the media outlet. Appropriately, before things got underway, Lathan would ask Mike if he was hiring at the moment. The Run the Jewels frontman would respond by praising Lathan’s journalistic strides.
“If I were hiring what I’d be asking you to do is partner in my company,” Mike replied. “I think you’re absolutely brilliant... I would formally like to invite you to Atlanta to start the chocolate version of TMZ.”
It is on this sentiment that the framework for the men’s conversation was founded, as Killer Mike made a routine of protesting against the act of asking for permission. It took root when Lathan questioned the origins of the political activism that finds itself woven in every one of the activist’s endeavors.
“Can I be frank? I’m tired of ni—as complaining. What I mean by that is my entire life has been defined by the struggle against something. Black people have only been free in America for 55 years. Take that in... In the exercise of our freedom, we’ve operated [from] a place of fear. ‘You better vote because the boogeyman’s gonna get you if you don’t.’”
Even then, Mike set the record straight in the reception of his activism and work, veering away from the institution of politics and leaning more into the social ramifications of inaction.
“From a social standpoint, if blacks were truly free and not operating from a place of fear, who would you vote for? If blacks had the true freedom not to worry about law enforcement killings, how would my operating with the police be different? If blacks really understood the power of the local vote, how could a prosecutor not be afraid to f-ck up? If you understood the power of your local vote, every judge that you don’t like, you realize you could vote out of office... It’s less about the political, but more about telling a free people, ‘You’re free. Now, let’s move like it.”
In demonstrating the power of this vote, Killer Mike alluded to the black banking challenge that he and other community figures set forth to encourage African-Americans to invest in their financial institutions. He reflected the positive impact it had in shaping mainstream corporations by using this as hefty evidence for the power of collaboration.
“We did the black banking challenge and immediately not 60 days after, Wells Fargo came with $60 million specifically allocated toward black mortgages—not diversity mortgages, not people of color mortgages, not disadvantage mortgages, for ‘buh-lack’ mortgages. Black black blackity black black,” he revealed.
For him, the answer lies in pairing this power with proper education. The bulk of Mike’s appearance was nothing short of a history lesson, as the Atlanta native name-dropped key figures in the fight for the systematic freedom of black people, encouraging the crowd to conduct research and learn more about their political climate while encouraging solidarity across the race.
On that particular subject, he dished out actionable directives in locating allies and being an effective ally, noting the oppression that everyone faces at the hands of the powers that be, no matter the complexion.
“If you a poor white man in Florida, the right is playing you because they’re telling you that we got your back…but when they close those doors and vote, you a ni—a too,” he so brashly declared.
Even with outside help, at the root of the advancement of blacks in America, lies the notion of what Killer Mike calls compassionate capitalism. Referencing himself and T.I., who grew up in the same area in Atlanta, Mike made a case for the theory of “compassionate capitalism.” It observes the often vilified notion of capitalism as a necessary tool when it comes to funding and fueling our communities.
“How am I going to donate to you if I’m not engaging in capitalism? How does Sean Combs open a school if he hasn’t become a capitalist? How does this Summit happen if a kid from Harlem doesn’t happen to say, ‘You know what? We have to return to getting people in the same room and networking.’ That only happens through capitalism.”
This capitalistic mindset bled into Mike’s following thoughts when the topic of reparations came up on the agenda. He presented the argument for reparations that don’t merely place checks in the hands of the descendants of slaves in America, but rather sets up the African-American community for an enterprising future.
“Once America cuts you a check, they not gon’ f-ck with you ever. What I would like to see is some type of cash payments [and] bigger than that: land,” he stated.
According to Mike, the solution involves a wave of ownership across industries, especially in the cannabis space. But, even with a host of proposed solutions and directives, he admitted that he doesn’t have a completed solution.
“I don’t know what fixes the whole problem,” he would say before encouraging black people to take on a holistic and involved approach to securing viable solutions for economical and social advancement. His advice began with starting negotiations for reparations and other social demands from an “astronomical place.” Alluding to Master P’s own words, he declared, “They offer you one, you deserve $40 million.”
Along with Master P, Killer Mike went on to name the likes of Diddy, JAY-Z, Robert F. Smith and even Dame Dash as the types of individuals he would bet on when it comes negotiating for the equity black people. As for his own role in the political and social playing field? Mike admitted that he would never have a desire to hold any political office until the broken system of politics is resolved.
“I would rather be a kingmaker or a king advisor than a king in this current system,” he stated. But such a sentiment does not relinquish him from advocating and pressing those in power to bring about change by consistently promoting new forms of policy and relentlessly advocating for these ideas. He would near his conclusion by challenging the REVOLT crowd to follow such a lead.
“What fire is going to get lit under your ass?” he closed.