As the popularity of Atlanta Rapper Killer Mike — born Michael Render — continues to grow as he joins forces with fellow rapper/producer El-P to form the duo Run the Jewels, his outspoken political activism continues to remain strong. Though he had already declared his support for the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders earlier this summer, on Monday at the Atlanta Fox Theater, Killer Mike made his endorsement official. The rapper gave a passionate and rousing speech, introducing Sanders and making a point of reference to Dr. Martin Luther King during his rallying cry.
“I have to tell you that in my heart of hearts, in my heart of hearts, I fully believe that Sen. Bernie Sanders is the right man to lead this country. I believe it because he, unlike any other candidate, said, ‘I would like to restore the Voting Rights Act.’ He, unlike any other candidate, said, ‘I wish to end this illegal war on drugs.’ Unlike any other candidate in my life, he said that education should be free. Stay encouraged. Stay invigorated. Stay bold. Stay confronting bulls**t at every turn!”
Sanders has had a difficult time drumming up a huge amount of support from the black community. When his stump speech was interrupted over the summer by #BlackLivesMatters protesters, the presidential hopeful has been struggling to gain acceptance among African-Americans. Although according to Real Clear Politics, the Vermont senator is still ahead of Hillary Clinton by 50 points in South Carolina. But will the big show of support from hip-hop’s own Killer Mike be the deciding factor in Sanders winning over the black vote?
Mike and Sanders enjoyed some fried chicken at the soul food restaurant Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta prior to the rally on Monday, according to the Washington Post. Killer Mike has been making a consistently strong impact in hip-hop with his political views, dating all the way back to the early 2000s when he worked with legendary Atlanta hip-hop duo OutKast. His involvement in Run the Jewels has allowed him to continue speaking out on police brutality and corrupt government.
Following the aftermath of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, when Michael Brown was shot and killed, Killer Mike was making his presence known on cable news and late night shows, sharing his thoughts on police brutality and his stance against it. The Run the Jewels song “Early,” which appeared on their second self-titled album Run the Jewels 2, El-P and Killer Mike touch on police corruption and brutality.
In June of 2015, Killer Mike was inspired to run as a write-in candidate to be the representative for Georgia’s 55th district in the Georgia House of Representatives. While the rapper certainly had supportive voters to write in his name, because he did not previously register as an official candidate in that election, he would not have been able to receive any valid votes. His goal was to bring more awareness of the special election, and to illustrate that political outsiders should be motivated to run against politicians who are established.
Killer Mike made his voice known after the horrific church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. The rapper went to his Twitter account to speak out against the shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, and argued that the victims “should have been armed.” Mike was not afraid to say that he does not support the pro gun control movement. “I will NEVER be pro gun control. As long as blacks can be killed by the state and terrorist,” he wrote. This seems to place him on the same track with Bernie Sanders, who voted against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
— Killer Mike (@KillerMike) November 23, 2015
[Photo by Alli Harvey/Getty Images for Spotify]