Killer Mike is an outspoken rapper, a supporter of the arts, the son of a cop and he smokes weed every day. There’s no less likely candidate to explain to a crowd of academics what needs to change, but his role as “not being the voice of dissension but the voice of honesty’’ turned heads and changed minds.
This past Friday, MIT continued a recent series of rappers speaking to their experience in the industry and the state of race relations in America with some powerful words from “Killer’’ Mike Render, half of the Run the Jewels rap collaboration with El-P and an incredible artist in his own right. Render spoke about everything from rap to racism to Iggy Azalea with humor and class, giving the everyman a clearer idea of some of the struggles the rap industry and black culture still face today.
Render was generous with his time and covered a number of topics in his press and public talk in an MIT classroom, expressing a need not only for quality rap and rappers, but more minority representation in all areas of the industry and in society in order to make lasting change. Here are some of the highlights:
The State of Rap
Killer Mike spoke of a necessary partnership that needed to bud between youth culture and the media in order to make positive change, saying “it’s about partnering…not about solving and doing it for them.’’
He also discussed a need for young rappers’ rights and an increased focus on encouraging self-expression, citing examples in which amateur rappers were prosecuted for simply rapping an unpopular opinion or of a touchy subject.
“So who’s gonna be the writer to come up to finally show the world that this is what we’re doing, and this is the alternative to whatever magazine? So I encourage people to keep writing.’’
On Rap’s History
“It started as an alternative to violence. It started as an extension of black nationalism and civil rights.’’
Improving Race Relations in the College System
“If I’m going to give advice to any college, it is to create a program in which students get extra credit, get monetary credit, get any type of thing that helps it get easier to be a student so that they can leave campus, find a high school that’s in dire need…and start [mentoring] one student in eighth or ninth grade, and go with that student until twelfth grade. I guarantee you, if you just show an interest in that child’s life…you are going to produce something that’s better for that child’s community and something that makes the campus more diverse.’’
Race and Rap
“The rage people were trying to pull out of me in America, it was unnecessary.’’
On Race Relations
When asked about the culture difference that exists between the sheltered academic environment of MIT and areas where discrimination persists primarily through police violence, Render cited his own experience being raised as the son of a cop. While he’s experienced plenty of discrimination from the police force, he upheld that these people are a minority in the force.
“I can be hanging out with my friends who might be ‘f— the police’ all day, I remind them my old man was a cop, and my old man was a decent cop …my cousin Quincy’s a cop, he’s a decent cop. So I find myself not being the voice of dissension but the voice of honesty.’’
Part two of the interview can be seen here: