Interview Killer Mike

First heard with OutKast, Killer Mike is a true ATLien. An outspoken rapper too, willing to say loud what his peers keep in their mind. In this interview made in November 2008 - before the Obama election and Mike's signing with TI label Grand Hustle - the Grind Time leader taks independence, Dungeon Family, politics in hip-hop and the "real Atlanta".

15/02/2009 | Interview by The Unseen Hand with contributions from Nemo & JB | Version franÁaise

Abcdr du Son: After two volumes of† “I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind”, how do you draw up the balance sheet of your experience as an artist/entrepreneur?

Killer Mike: I’m about a C+, B – now and I’m shooting for A+. I think that by the end of 2009, I will be an A+ in terms of being a solid artist with his own lane because I’m very much on the cross for the artistic side. I want to develop my own thang, my own niche. Now I’m solidifying this in order to be a better businessman. I look for Grind Time to be one of the biggest companies in the south within the next five years. That’s a lot to go so I need to learn the business more deeply, as I learn it will improve my business and the one of the artists I’m associated with.

A: Now that you are the boss of your own record label, how do you look at the failure of other labels like Aquemini and Purple Ribbon?

K.M.: I can sympathize with Purple Ribbon because people who were in office wanted to educate artists about the business side of the game. I think that they are making a come back. I wish to be a competitor of labels like Grand Hustle. Its success is inspiring.

A: Would you say that despite the success of OutKast, leaving the label was a blessing in disguise?

K.M.: Yeah it really was a blessing in a disguise for me because it’s funny that they say be careful what you ask for, be careful of what you pray for. I ask to be my own boss and I ask to have the freedom to do the type of music that I really felt like I should be doing. I didn’t realize that I had to go through so much tribulation with it but it was pretty much worth the pain and agony.

A: "Ghetto Extraordinary" was the album recorded under the Purple Ribbon imprint, however you have decided to drop it for free downloads this year. What made you want to do that?

K.M.: I think the people who support my music - because I call the people who are down with the whole Grind Time thing my supporters - shouldn’t have to wait to hear my voice. They have nothing to do with what those companies and labels are going through, yet they deal with the consequences. We honestly don’t know how the record got out but the fact that it got out made very happy and I definitely want my supporters to hear it. I just wanted to give to my supporters something free.

A: You don’t know how the record got leaked?

K.M.: Nah I didn’t leaked it on my own and I found it when a website contacted me. They asked me if they could leak it and I was like: “Sure, why not?”.

A: How do you look at it now?

K.M.: I think it is a great album. I think that I was kind of two years ahead of the curve because if you listen to 'My Chrome', it sounds a lot like what’s going on the radio now. I think the core of what you have now is on that record. If you listen to record like 'Speak Lord', 'Bad Day/ Worst Day', 'Mama Said', they are dealing with the same situation that is going on now. I think that I always was a little ahead of the curve. I did 'Rap Is Dead' two years before Nas did "Hip-hop Is Dead”. My thing is I’ve always been one of the first people to talk about these things. I think that the core of that was on that record "Ghetto Extraordinary".

A: Would you say that sometimes it is a bad thing to be ahead of the curve?

K.M.: Yes sometimes it is. I don’t necessarily think that it is bad to be ahead of the curve, I just think that you have to compare the time. "Pledge Allegiance vol. 1" was originally a mixtape and I decided to put it out as a real album. They were a lot of things that I couldn’t take advantage of. "Pledge Alliance 2" finds me in a place where I can take advantage of something digitally so I start doing things on the Internet to have some reactions and when those reactions happen I’d always drop music with that. So the music was the thing that gets me the intention. Even down to the little video with me and Big Boi on Youtube, it was to promote a "Sunday morning massacre", which is every Sunday, you can go to and you can download a free freestyle from me. I’ve done The Game’s 'Dopeboy', Jay Z’s 'Jockin’ Jay-Z' and Lil Wayne’s 'A Milli'. My thing is everything I do now leads people back to the music because I’ve learned that it is something that I add to my repertoire, something that I keep doing.

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