Killer Mike has always seen the world for what it is and hasn’t been shy about making his opinions known. He’s been around the industry since 1995 and a fan of hip-hop since he was a child, so he’s had an in-depth look at how it’s played out, even challenging the Supreme Court to stand up for another rapper’s lyrics. In the process, he’s noticed the disappearance of Black middle-management and how, as a result, Black artists are forced to suffer.
“Is there a conspiracy to wipe out Black middle-level management?” he began. “Whether it was Luther Campbell, Master P, Little Jay, Puff, Suge — when they were the filtration system that the artists had to go through to deal with the bigger companies it felt as though the bigger companies were more in check. But as soon as the bigger companies figured out how to circumvent and get directly to the artists, the rise of the 360 deal happened.”
He went on to compare this to a couple of entrepreneurs of different industries. The first was Joan B. Johnson, a standout in the sale of cocoa butter to the Black community. His company was bought out and, after struggling a bit, they brought him back to the company since he was the expert. Similarly, Bevel, a shaving company catered to Black men and women, was bought out by Gillette but would keep the owner onboard to maintain that the product was still sufficient and catering to the right demographics. Killer Mike believes that labels aren’t doing this in hip-hop and R&B — rather, they’re taking out the people like Jermaine Dupri from the equation and losing the attachment to the community or finding themselves locked into deals that don’t serve them. He did go on to speak about the come-ups fro Drake and Migos as they’re completely different than what the model has tried to present for Black artists.
“I think Drake and the Migos both came up in interesting ways,” he said. “I remember when Drake was working on his first mixtape. His whole style was not what the industry wanted or was expecting and he dominates with it and that’s why he’s one of my favorite guys. I remember when the Migos came out everybody thought they were going to be one-hit wonders because Atlanta has had a lot of one-hit wonders. Those guys made sure you heard them not once, but twice, three, four, five, six, seven, eight times, and that’s why I love them.”
Run The Jewels, Killer Mike’s rap duo, changed the game by putting out a free album model. While it’s very impressive and admirable, he understands that it’s not for everyone. He said some people value and make their money from streams, others from YouTube hits, for them, it just winds up being what makes them feel good. He went on to praise Rae Sremmurd for staying in the scene and keeping their originality through the years.
“It’s the same reason I love Rae Sremmurd,” he started. “People tried to write them off. For me, it’s just about the determination of the artists and connecting with your audience and pushing forward. And you know a little bit of luck is always involved. Sometimes you’re prepared for it and when the luck happens you keep it going. With art, there is no formula for how to do it. The formula is just to keep doing it until you figure it out for you.”
Read the full interview here.