Despite his aggressive-sounding moniker, rapper Killer Mike is very eloquent about politics, social justice, and family. He explained this disparity to Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night by noting that he didn’t actually come up with the name himself.
“It wasn’t like a kid was standing in front of a mirror and decided he looked like a killer. I actually would’ve been Bugatti Mike or Ferrari Mike,” said the rapper, whose real name is Michael Render. “But I rapped against a kid as a kid, and I rapped against him really well, and another guy stood on a desk and said, ‘That guy’s a killer.’ And after that no one ever called me ‘skunk’ again in my life.”
Killer Mike has been rapping for over 15 years now, but most of his music in recent years has been made with rapper/producer El-P (a.k.a. Jamie Meline) as part of Run the Jewels. Killer Mike confirmed he and Meline are currently working on Run the Jewels 3, but much of his time on The Late Show was spent talking about politics.
“Speaking for all white people,” Colbert asked whether Killer Mike thought the rise of awareness about racial justice issues in the wake of events in Ferguson, Missouri and Charleston, South Carolina was having any positive impact.
“If white people are just now discovering it’s bad for black and working-class people in America, they’re a lot more blind than I thought. And they’re choosing to be ignorant a lot more than I thought,” Killer Mike said. “The same problems we’re discussing today, we discussed in 1990, 1980, 1970, and 1960. Until we call a spade a spade and say this problem comes from conditions that we’re allowing to happen, as a white group of people who hold a certain amount of power.”
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Killer Mike recently released a six-part interview he had done with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at one of the barbershops he owns in Atlanta. He explained to Colbert why he feels Sanders is special.
“Bernie Sanders is the only politician who has consistently for 50 years taken a social justice platform into politics,” Killer Mike said. “Right now we have an opportunity to elect someone who is directly out of the philosophy of Kingian nonviolence. We can directly elect someone who cares about poor people, cares about women, gay, black rights, cares about lives that don’t look like his. This opportunity in history is not going to come in another 20 years.”
Watch the full interview below.