Killer Mike: On Ronald Reagan And Raising Daughters Atlanta rapper Michael Santiago Render, known professionally as Killer Mike, released his sixth album this month, and his U.S. tour kicks off Tuesday. He explains to Morning Edition that he wants rap music to be embraced like jazz, blues or gospel. "What's more gospel than rap music?" he asks.

Killer Mike: On Ronald Reagan And Raising Daughters

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Now to an album creating buzz in the world of hip-hop. It comes from Atlanta-based rapper Michael Render, better known as Killer Mike.


KILLER MIKE: (Rapping) You are witnessing elegance in the form of a black elephant, smoking white rhino on terraces. Will I die slain like my King, by a terrorist? Will my woman be Coretta, take my name and cherish it? Or will she Jackie O., drop the Kennedy, remarry...

WERTHEIMER: Killer Mike's new album is called "R.A.P. Music." Not rap - it stands for rebellious African people.

MIKE: First of all, all humanity is from Africa. And I think that rap, for a very long time, has been the stepchild of the black musical and the American musical experience.

WERTHEIMER: He wants rap music to be embraced like jazz, blues or gospel.

MIKE: What's more gospel than rap music? You know, young men and women exposing their soul over beats.


MIKE: (Rapping) Like the dream of a teen when they cycle through this life on the valley of (unintelligible) motel. (unintelligible) these young, black boys self-sabotage they-selves. Or maybe they too smart and they choose to go hard, 'cause they know the good guy will fail. So you ask what happens to a dream deferred, (unintelligible).

WERTHEIMER: Atlanta holds a special place in Killer Mike's heart. He runs a barbershop there and is something of a community leader.

MIKE: I want to chance to have my finger on the pulse of the community, and at the same time provide jobs that make profit. You know, it's sexy to sell vodka. It's sexy to own a record label. It's sexy to own a clothing company. But sexy is not what's paying for the communities that are north of Atlanta.

WERTHEIMER: Killer Mike addresses this issue in a politically charged song called "Reagan."


MIKE: (Rapping) We brag on having bread, but none of us are bakers. We all talk having greens, but none of us own acres. If none of us own acres and none of us grow wheat, then who will feed our people when our people need to eat?

WERTHEIMER: That's Michael Render, better known as Killer Mike. His U.S. tour kicks off tonight in Atlanta. His new album is called "R.A.P. Music."

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