Activist and rapper Killer Mike, one-half of the group Run the Jewels, shared his opinions on freedom of speech in the music industry at a recent panel hosted by The Washington Post. The rapper discussed artists roles in promoting and progressing the freedom of speech. He also said rappers should receive more credit for the recent wave of weed decriminalization across the country.
Killer Mike said many activists and politicians have been praised for their work to decriminalize marijuana, but the roles played by various rappers have been overlooked.
“We know that with national decriminalization of marijuana now, a lot of people are going to get credit for it—a lot of activists, a lot of workers,” he said. “But I can show you a line that leads straight back to Cyprus Hill, that leads straight back to Snoop Dogg, that leads straight back to people like Rick James.”
“If it’s not duly acknowledged publicly—if the media isn’t pushing the line of that narrative, if the media isn’t giving us that freedom, if the media treats rappers differently than they do country artists—then you’re going to see a galvanization of what the prejudices that we already see,” he continued.
When asked about musicians role in promoting freedom of speech, Killer Mike cited many instances of rappers receiving backlash over controversial lyrics. Mike brought up N.W.A.’s famous song, “F*ck Tha Police,” and how it caused the group to get arrested following a Detroit performance in 1989. But N.W.A.’s willingness to express themselves has carved a path for other rappers to discuss a similar sentiment in their music. “Our job is to push the limits,” Killer Mike concluded.
Watch the entire panel on freedom of speech hosted by The Washington Post.