"K-I-L-L! This is the name that came to alter the game." If you were to mention the name "Michael Render" in passing, most people wouldn’t know to whom you were referring. Mention the name “Killer Mike,” however, and the image and sounds of a larger-than-life lyrical pugilist come to mind. His musical credits include multiple Billboard charting albums, collaborations with ATL’s own Outkast and his part in the critically acclaimed hip-hop duo Run the Jewels. And while the name may invoke thoughts of violence and malicious conduct, the moniker was bestowed upon the ATL rapper for his freestyle prowess in delivering his truth of growing up in Atlanta and striving to make it better for generations to come.
See why Killer Mike opened two SWAG Shop locations in Atlanta (with one more to come as part of the Philips Arena transformation), visit his favorite spots, get a taste of Atlanta and see why he is so proud to be from Atlanta, GA!
The Grammy Award-winning rapper represents the city as the unofficial ambassador of Atlanta in repping our Southern gem to fullest while also being a staunch advocate for community and social justice. Here are three reasons we love the man they call Killer Mike.
In matters of music, Killer Mike is among a robust cadre of down-South musicians that have solidified Atlanta’s dominance in hip-hop culture throughout the years. Making his musical debut on "Snappin' & Trappin'" from Atlanta hip-hop royalty OutKast's "Stankonia" album, Killer Mike went on to receive a Grammy Award for his verse on the group’s follow-up single, "The Whole World." Laying articulate and lush flows over bass-heavy beats that sound best bumping out of Cadillac trunk riding down Peachtree, we love Mike’s musical authenticity and that he’s even more of a household name now from his work as part of the internationally renowned hip-hop duo, Run The Jewels. We've attended his concerts at the old Masquerade, Lakewood Amphitheater and Terminal West and danced to his music at Star Bar and these top places for hip-hop in Atlanta.
While Mike admits he didn’t grow up in optimal circumstances, he’s still happy for the streets that made him into the man he is today. As a student at Frederick Douglass High School, Mike was struck by the abolitionist's quote “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” and it still strikes a chord with him today. He takes these experiences and shares the beauty that is Atlanta everywhere he goes. From sold-out concerts in Sweden to giving back by elevating black communities through his barbershops (the Graffitis SWAG Shops), Killer Mike lives, eats and sleeps ATL.
The rapper’s dedication to the betterment of the city even garnered a special day in his honor where July 17 was proclaimed “Michael ‘Killer Mike’ Render Day” by the Atlanta City Council. And how many artists do you know who have an $11.6 million drill named after them? Killer Mike does, or in this case, a tunnel-boring excavator was given the nickname “Driller Mike” as an homage to Mike’s commitment as an outstanding ambassador for Atlanta.
While some rappers only talk the talk in their lyrics, we love that Killer Mike walks it as an outspoken activist and supporter of social issues including police brutality, racism and income inequality. Sharing his point of view on CNN panels, HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher" and other platforms, Mike keeps it real with the truth about social inequality, and he even wrote an op-ed in Billboard magazine citing the rampant officer-involved shootings against young black males. As a supporter for 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Killer Mike rallied crowds to inform and educate individuals on the issues that affect them. He has been honored for his community work with the Bank Black program, Black Teens for Advancement, the Atlanta/Fulton Commission on Children and its program Kids 4 a Change. With a precise and influential community voice, Killer Mike is an advocate everyone should want in their corner, and we’re happy to have him in ATL’s.
Chris Watkins is an Atlanta-based writer and photographer and serves as the voice of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (@DiscoverAtlanta) on social media. You can follow him on Instagram @christopherbw.
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