Michael Render, also known as “Killer Mike,” is a Grammy award-winning rapper and activist. The Run the Jewels musician made headlines last Friday after giving an emotional speech urging Atlanta protesters to refrain from vandalizing the city.
Render called for peace during Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ news conference while residents took to the streets over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of a white Minneapolis officer. Scores of anti-police brutality riots erupted nationwide following a harrowing video of former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. Chauvin has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The city’s peaceful demonstrations took a turn for the worst when protesters shattered the windows of CNN’s Headquarters and set a cop car on fire.
Render, the son of an Atlanta cop, empathized with the protesters at first, citing hundreds of years of American policies labeling black people as less than. He then urged them to take their pains and frustrations to the polls.
“It is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy,” he expressed. “It is your duty to fortify your own house, so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization.”
You can watch his full speech here:
The roughly eight-minute speech went viral on Twitter with more than 130,000 tweets. LeBron James also shared the speech, calling it a “mandatory listen.”
Here’s what you need to know about “Killer Mike” Rendon:
1. Render Is One Half of the Hip-Hop Duo, Run The Jewels, & Has Been Featured on Countless Classic Tracks Like Jay Z’s ‘Poppin’ Tags’ & Bone Crusher’s ‘Never Scared’
The aspiring rapper made his first musical debut trading rhymes with Big Boi on “Snappin’ and Trappin” in a guest verse on Outkast’s 2000 quadruple-platinum LP Stankonia. A year later, he landed his first Grammy for his performance on “The Whole World,” the single from Outkast’s 2001 greatest hits collection. Render saw more success in 2003 with his first debut album as “Killer Mike,” reaching gold status through the Recording Industry Association of America.
It wasn’t until 2013 though, that the rapper connected with his current RTJ counterpart, rapper and producer El-P. Render and El-P joined forces to create what is now the popular hip hop subgroup, Run the Jewels.
The rappers recently announced the details of their upcoming Run the Jewels 4 album. The release date is slated for June 5 via Jewel Runners/BMG. The new album will feature guest appearances from Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de La Rocha, Pharrell, 2 Chainz, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Mavis Staples.
2. Render Views Himself as an Activist First, & a Grammy-Winning Artist Second
Render’s emotional commentary on hot-button topics is nothing new. Over the years, the rapper has emerged as an outspoken activist on subjects surrounding social equality, police brutality and systemic racism.
Render has also given lectures on race relations at universities across the country, including Northwestern University, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Atlanta native gained national attention on Nov. 24, 2014 when he addressed the grand jury’s decision on the Michael Brown shooting before a show in St. Louis.
In a similar tone to Friday’s dialogue, Render opened the set with a heartfelt speech that later went viral after a fan uploaded the video online.
He offered his thoughts and prayers to the people peacefully protesting, as well as “the people who could not hold their anger in, because riots are only the language of the unheard.”
3.Render Once Ran as a Write-In Candidate to Become the Representative for the 55th District in the Georgia House of Representatives
In June 2015, Render made his campaign announcement as a write-in candidate through an Instagram post to his more than 110,000 followers, using the slogan “If I win, We Win.”
Five hours later he posted a follow up video saying he didn’t have the necessary paperwork and couldn’t stand as a write-in. Render said his purpose was to raise awareness of the special election and demonstrate that political outsiders can run against established politicians.
His announcement — while short-lived — received some love on both ends, including from fellow Atlanta rap comrade Big Boi, who shared the news on his Facebook page.
4.Render Is the Proud Owner of a Barber Shop
Render opened a barbershop with his wife Shana in November 2011 called “Graffitis SWAG” (Shave, Wash, And Groom).
A lifelong dream, he intended to use the space to “lift up men in the community who are out of work and help move them toward sustainable, lifelong careers,” while giving his employees an “opportunity for real economic elevation.” The Atlanta shop’s interior is littered with artwork honoring historic black leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.
As of 2012, Graffitis Swag employed six barbers and cultivated a community gathering space. The barber shop not only hosted events, like the season premiere for The Boondocks, but also served as the setting for several music videos.
5.Render Took His Message to Netflix & Now Hosts His Own Show, ‘Trigger Warning With Killer Mike’
Render is the host of his own Netflix docu-series, “Trigger Warning with Killer Mike.” The six-episode series launched in January 2019 and has an 86 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Trigger Warning, pitched as a funny and provocative experience, explores “taboo” topics surrounding social change, including drugs, gangs, religion and poverty, through amusing yet educational social experiments.
According to a statement from Render, the show is “about examining cultural taboos and giving viewers the space to examine the ‘what ifs’ and ‘why nots ’ that limit how some people move and operate in the world. In six episodes, we explore the human condition using nontraditional approaches.”
In one episode of Trigger Warning, Render dismantles the myth of “White Jesus” by creating a new religion that worships naps and gathers in none other than Atlanta’s raunchiest strip club.