June 29, 2022

Killer Mike on being a compassionate capitalist, labor organizer, pro-black businessman and political voice

  • Michael Render, better known by his rap name Killer Mike, is a television personality, pro-black businessman and Bernie supporter.
  • He talks to Insider about the social and political responsibility of artists.

On May 10, Michael Render, woke up early, to the announcement of Greenwood Inc – the digital banking platform for black and Latino people he co-owns – acquiring The Gathering Spot, a membership network private focused on the black community.

He jokes that he gets up a little earlier than most rappers – 6am

Rendering is many things; a Grammy-winning Atlanta rapper known as Killer Mike, a Bernie supporter, pro-black businessman, landlord, and one of America’s unapologetic political voices.

In recent years, people have come to know Killer Mike as an individual committed to his activism and politics, which he reinforces with his documentary “Trigger Warning With Killer Mike” and his show “Love & Respect With Killer Mike”. .

He uses his notoriety to confront social issues affecting the black community, even if it means being misunderstood along the way.

Render is back on our screens with a new season of sound interview on PBS, “Love & Respect With Killer Mike”, where he interviews guests like Bernice King, Erick Erickson and Tommy Davidson.

Insider met Render. The following is an edited transcript of our interview.

Killer Mike and El-P of Run The Jewels perform at Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival 2022 on April 22, 2022Timothy Norris/Getty Images for Coachella

Michael, you do a lot. You’re a rapper, an activist, you run a chain of hair salons, and you have a show. How do you juggle so many hats?

I have four children and a wife, so it’s pretty overwhelming. And the chain of barbershops we’re developing, called SWAG Shop, is a passion project, so I never get tired of it because I know it’s necessary to have a national chain of barbers that understands black hair .

So the things I do, I love doing them. So I do it, the way I like them. I recognized that I can’t do everything. So I have a very good team of people around me who allow me to give the impression that I can do everything.

You also described yourself as a compassionate capitalist, what does that mean to you?

Compassionate capitalism means capitalism is the system I was born under. Capitalism is a system in which I live. And I’d rather be an active participant than a victim.

It means I can do more to help my community provide jobs than I can by taking care of myself. I could take the money I make singing and dancing, put that money aside, I’d still be a multi-millionaire, I wouldn’t have to worry about a lot. I chose to take capital along the way. In my own capital, I chose to start things that gave people jobs, whether it was hair salons, restaurants or real estate investments.

Some celebrities choose to keep their politics or opinions to themselves, what makes you want to be open about yours?

I spoke in front of the Atlanta City Council yesterday. My grandmother used to drag me to city council meetings because she wouldn’t shut up if she paid her taxes about her concerns about our community. By the time I was 15, I was already organizing myself, I was already aligning myself.

So I didn’t become a successful artist and then I blamed that artist and decided, “I want to do something to help change the world” and we see what happens. I’ve been an organizer longer than I’ve been a rapper.

Killer Mike on being a compassionate capitalist, labor organizer, pro-black businessman and political voice
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) arrives for a rally at Claflin University with rapper Killer Mike February 26, 2016 in Orangeburg, South CarolinaScott Olson/Getty Images

What keeps you informed?

I don’t know what else to do but be active. And I think for me, very local things lead to national things. I’m driven to justice and fairness in Amazon factories, because I know people who work with them in Amazon factories, and that naturally informs me so once Bernie Sanders calls me and says, ” Hey, can you come help me? Help people get a union started?” It makes sense for me to do this because on a very local level, I have already heard the rumblings and complaints from people working in the factories.

What issues do you think are not getting the attention they currently deserve?

Black people having access to capital, policies and laws passed that benefit us from the party we benefit the most from.

And I would say controlling our own educational and food infrastructure resources. Cities like Atlanta, Birmingham, Tampa, Charlotte, Savannah, Chicago, black people should dominate politically and economically and have a say. Until we do it hand in hand, not either or we are not balanced to do well.

What social responsibility do you believe those in the entertainment the industry has to be in the public eye?

I don’t believe people who don’t want to be responsible. I have responsibility, because that’s how I was raised.

What I think artists have the opportunity to do is they have the opportunity to be informed by people who do the day-to-day work of organizing. And we have the ability to use our platform to draw attention to these people.

As you hear Killer Mike, and I appreciate you listening to me, I want you to reach out to the people who have influenced me, and I want you to support them and their organizations, because they do the work daily.

Do you ever feel misunderstood when sharing your politics?

Yeah. I grew up in an all black world, I grew up in a neighborhood that was created for black people, by black people. Everyone in the neighborhood was talking about dignity, pride and respect.

For me though, it’s important that all black people in this country understand the power we have, especially when we act as a collective.

What can viewers expect from this new season of “Love & Respect with Killer Mike”?

Love and respect. Man, just more interviews with more interesting people that I agree with and sometimes disagree with. What I want people to expect is for people to see dialogue and conversation versus polarization and argument.