Personal Top 25 @KillerMikeGTO Songs
What’s happening out there? First of all, Happy Birthday to one of my heroes and just favorite people, Michael Render, better known as Killer Mike. Definitely want to send a huge supporter salute. GTRGBBB! This one took a damn week to construct, man. Killer Mike is such a big influence, that I couldn’t half ass his appreciation post. Much like my Prince, Ice Cube or 2Pac posts (last year), I assembled this entirely based on what I love about the music. This isn’t even an official ranking of songs, this is just 25 tracks that I connect to. killermikegto has been nothing short of amazing in these last 6 years. He has truly worked his ass off for every success, gain and amount of praise he has received. So let’s get into some Killer Kill.
1) Speak Lord (Ghetto Extraordinary, 2005) - My absolute favorite Killer Mike song and it’s on an album that only released digitally, lol. Ghetto Extraordinary featured a lot of good work, but “Speak Lord” reminds me of the time I really needed to hear something to anchor myself. Mike discusses the loss of his grandfather and the grief, depression and anger that accompanied. At the time I discovered this song, I’d just lost my grandmother. Much of what he spoke in that first verse is honestly how I felt, and it made me realize that not only does he make compelling music, but he’s honest enough to tell you his truth and his shortcomings. Faith in God is really tested when your life is shaken up. From tragedy to triumph, this man has made one hell of a climb. Salute!
2) Grandma’s House (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - “Close your eyes and imagine the South…” This is a song that I have loved from the moment I first heard it. “Grandma’s House” isn’t just some story for the sake of telling a story. Mike tells his story, and he doesn’t bullshit you. I love the amount of love he shows his family in his music. His background and upbringing turned him into one of my favorite people. On this track you witness Michael Render’s journey from the streets to the man he was destined to become. The love, support and advice from his grandmother still pushes him on today. What’s also cool is the fact that this song also makes me think about my grandma. May they both rest in peace.
3) God In The Building (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - Before I tell you why, I’ll tell you what. Killer Mike has performed this song every time I’ve seen him. Been to 4 shows, and he brought it each time. Word for word, bar for bar, I sing this song with him. When it comes on my iPod I feel like he’s there. The music, the chorus and these verses are on some Godlike level. There has never come a time when this song didn’t move me. Mike doesn’t hide shit in his music, and I love that. Killer Mike discusses God in a way that I’ve never heard in church, from an elder or even in Gospel music. Killer Mike helps patch some of the religious holes in my life. Mike’s work about God is some of the greatest music you’ll ever witness. I don’t question his calling, but the man possesses a passion for words and The Word that rivals your baddest Baptist preacher. Thank the lord for that.
4) Reagan (R.A.P. Music, 2012) - If there isn’t a high truth content to the music you listen to, you might be listening to a bunch of bullshit rappers with nothing to talk about. Luckily for you, that ain’t Killer Mike. “Reagan” is this beautiful exhibition of artistic brilliance. From the very moment it begins, you feel that darkness. Shout outs to El-P on the production. Still some of the rawest shit I’ve ever heard. The delivery is methodic, crisp and eerily calm. Mike tells no lies and kicks the ass of anyone toting that “Reagan was a great man” bullshit. First time I saw him perform this, he used no beat. (And I actually rocked with him doing every other line, lol.) I was made in the late 80s, so Ronald Reagan doesn’t mean shit to me. I’m more than appreciative of the big homie for calling that shit out. Another thing showcased on this song, Mike is very aware. The man reads and is abreast on a lot of higher level shit than the rappers you impersonate. Get into his catalog and see what’s up.
5) A Christmas Fucking Miracle performed as Run The Jewels (Run The Jewels, 2013) - Run The Jewels is without a doubt the best thing that happened to me in 2013 music. I have never been more grateful for an album that was released for free. In fact, I bought a hard copy when they played the 9:30 Club, just because it’s that damn good. Another fun fact, I saw them perform it. Greatest shit I saw all night. Quite honestly, that entire album could go up here. Mike’s verse, though, was probably Top 3 for all verses I heard last year. Lyrically, the man applied such precision to that opener. I flinched when I first heard it. Shit was incredible. Not only that, the depth in his verse is amazing. I’ve studied that song front to back. (El-P’s verse included and not on Rap Genius either. I’m not a fucking hipster or a lame.) There’s probably going to be another “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” appreciation post. It needs to be talked about. One of the best songs of last year and my favorite of 2013. Still every bit as amazing.
6) Intro (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - Why an intro? Okay, Summer 2008 came along and I was about a month into a job I would not have by the end of the year. Shit was terrible, really. There’s another story about this album coming up, but that was right around the time I decided to buy this album. I went to work everyday for 3 months listening to this CD. I had my Discman in the breakroom listening to the words on this intro. As soon as he started with a shoutout to his supporters, he earned a fan in me for life. When he says “I believe that you should leave that record with something more than a bullshit experience”, I felt the sincerity of those words. And he wasn’t bullshitting. That intro continues to be one of my favorite Killer Mike tracks and it contains no rapping. Just the fact that he helped kickstart my moves in a better direction, makes me grateful. So super supporter salute! GTRGBBB!
7) Untitled ft. Scar (R.A.P. Music, 2012) - When this shit was just a snippet I knew it was about to be crazy. Thank God, Mike proved me right. Shout outs to El-P on this one too. “Untitled” is some more of Killer Mike’s story. This even contains some of his fears and concerns. I always admire the unreal amount of conviction contained in his music. (Killer, you’ll probably see this post at some point, but just know I truly appreciate the work you do.) There are artists who make music for you to purchase, but then there are artists who make music with a purpose. Killer Mike definitely makes music with a purpose. You hear it fully on display with tracks like “Untitled”.
8) Pressure ft. Ice Cube (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - Pledge II holds a special place in my heart, if you couldn’t already tell. 2008 was the year for people to get reacquainted with Killer Mike. That’s the year that did it for me. Knew him from Monster and joints with OutKast, but 2008 brought me back to him. A collaboration with one of my favorite MCs of all-time doesn’t happen everyday. An Ice Cube verse ain’t like those 2Pac and Biggie verses that people paste into a track. That shit really happened! “Pressure” called a lot of folks to the carpet and sounded off on people neglecting responsibilities as elected officials and public figures. Not for nothing, those over glamorized/publicized people only have power over the people who so eagerly give it to them. Don’t talk pro black, yet hoist the bourgeoisie blacks, but constantly step over the everyday black folk in your own community. Get your ass out there and make a damn difference instead of waiting for one to be made.
9) Shoot Em Up ft. Narrio (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind, 2006) - I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind is a double album, man. Two full discs of pure Killer Mike. “Shoot Em Up” is one of my many “get hype to rap” joints. Mike and Narrio traded verses on this one and it was vicious. That Killer opener on his first verse “Killer I took about 40 lives with a .45” the game was over. He killed that second verse too. I want to rap, rob and punch wack niggas in the face when I hear it. It’s crazy, lol. I consider this vintage Killer because it was so raw, relentless and gutter. Sometimes you gotta take it to that level too.
10) Kane & Abel (Sunday Morning Massacre, 2008) - Who remembers Sunday Morning Massacres? I do. “Kane & Abel” was done over the “My Life” beat (by The Game, produced by Cool & Dre). Killer converts the Biblical tale into a hustler’s story. What I love most is how there was morality attached to their dealing. Young Kane is shown as being more into the life and enjoying the success of the game. Abel sees how it hurts his mother and decides to get out the game. Kane is infuriated and you know how that ultimately escalates to a fatality. Contains dope references to KRS-One and the 1994 film Sugar Hill. Again, I love a dope story, and Killer Kill can definitely illustrate quite vividly what he’s talking about. Get hip.
11) Go! (R.A.P. Music, 2012) - R.A.P. Music's rapid fire exhibition of a lyrical gatling gun is on point. When he brings this joint out to perform— Whooo! Big man gets busy. Sometimes my favorite thing to enjoy on a rap album, is just someone rapping. Plus, this album is sequenced brilliantly. The track is a standout for the technique employed. Favorite section of this song is probably the first one. Great NWA reference in there and closes that verse mean as hell. And the scratches on this track are on point too. Flat out, the man can rap. Probably one of my favorite uses of a double time flow.
12) Sex, Drugs, Rap and Roll (Monster, 2003) - Vintage Killer Mike. This is the Monster era. I like it because it highlights the underworld. For real, it’s some brash shit. Lines like, “I grew up in a hard hood on some hectic shit/Got demons to recon with/Drown myself in decadence” also display how skillful he is as a lyricist. That lets you know what type of frame of mind he’s in on this one. He’s exploring the choices that led him to this point. Young Killer truly was a monster on this shit. The third verse is some of the wildest shit, but it closes the song well. Check it out.
13) Good-Bye (City of Dope) (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - Killer Mike tells amazing stories. I say this often because it never stops being true. Dope stories, told properly, make dope stories. The song unfolds as a typical day in the trap, but by the end of the track, it turns into a heist. It’s cinematic. If he wanted, this could have been a mini movie. My favorite thing about this song is the third verse. He set up a kick door essentially, by tempting his female supplier. She falls for the trap and starts the water works. And he says my favorite line on the track, “I told her bitch, be a man/This is M.O.B.” I fucking cracked up. It’s actually quite hilarious too. The story is well paced and it’s a perfect closer. Pledge II ends on a high note with it.
14) Blind Justice (Bang x 3, 2011) - This joint actually appears on the Bang x 3 EP that dropped before PL3DGE dropped. Produced by DJ Toomp, I fuck with it. What impresses me the most about this track is how he moves on the beat. Because I listen to rap with a rapper’s ear, I’m all about what gets done on tracks as well. Lyrical execution on this one is top notch. You also get some true game on this joint. My man said, “Even in position for prayin’ I got the iron out”. Son, that was an ill ass visual. Plus that’s just a dope line. What else should you expect from the man said he keeps a blunt, bible and a gun” on him? Believe it.
15) So Glorious (PL3DGE, 2011) - The PL3DGE opener became an instant classic for me. I keep referencing the fact that Mike is a master at telling a story, but he tells his story like no one else. His bold proclamation that he would not lose, was made just five years prior on 2006’s I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind. Mike has made considerable gains since. The man has not broken stride yet and is sure to keep running with that baton. Through whatever doubt, setbacks and misfortune has come his way, this man rose to the occasion. Everything he has accomplished in these last few years is a testament to his resilience and unyielding determination. I give him nothing but respect for it.
16) If I Can’t Eat Right ft. Pill & Rochelle Fox (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - As promised, here’s another Pledge II story for you. I first heard about Pledge II from an XM Radio interview featuring the man himself. After a brief discussion of not paying for bullshit music that tells you what you’ll never accomplish or acquire, they start playing this joint. Mike is assisted on this track by Pill and Rochelle Fox, but this one Killer Mike verse convinced me to buy the entire album. I have never been so sold on something in that small a time frame. Cold blooded on that track, but you need that mentality more than you know. If you aren’t eating, perhaps you should change your habits and adjust your grind.
17) Can You Hear Me (I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II, 2008) - For anyone who doesn’t already know, let me make it painfully obvious. I really have such a high level of appreciation for I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II. “Can You Hear Me” contains another chapter in the story of Killer Mike. Being able to rise out of the circumstances that once jeopardized his freedom, to being able to tour the world has to be amazing. You really have to drive yourself to become greater than your immediate surroundings. That man is leaving a legacy that he can truly be proud of. Amen to that.
18) That’s Life II (PL3DGE, 2011) - This shit right here is like a scene from Shooter. Mike is taking aim at all talking heads and knocking them off their shoulders. Oprah, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Nancy Pelosi, Ronald Reagan, Bishop Eddie Long and so many others got addressed. And it was necessary. While this song contains scathing social commentary, it spares none. Even Barack Obama got called out on it. Perfect sequel to the original “That’s Life”, if you ask me. So often rappers talk a bunch of rap shit, but Mike proves he can function in forums outside the music industry.
19) Bad Day, Worst Day Remix ft. Ice Cube (Ghetto Extraordinary, 2005) - Activism for your ass, lol. The big homie is assisted by his big homie Cube. This is in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina debacle. Once again, elected officials, public figures and the popular folks who don’t do shit for the people who buy into whatever bullshit they sell got called out. Both MCs being men I admire, I dig any time they link up. Plus, I like anything that gets Cube mad. (Still waiting for that album, bruh.) My only complaint, and Killer Kill knows, the version included on Ghetto Extraordinary is edited. Need that explicit version, but the radio edit still jams just as well.
20) Man Up (2009) - Fresh off of signing to Grand Hustle, though! This one appears on no album. Mike brought the menace out on this shit. He straight embarrassed the fuck out of many of his unnamed peers. Rap was getting disgustingly cliché and the main perpetrators weren’t even selling any damn records. Adding to it, everyone wanted to sell this “real nigga” image, but behaved more like real housewives. Deciding that he’d had enough of that shit, he kept it gutter. No hook, no bullshit and no gimmicks. Just hardcore rhyming. And the Killer KILLED IT! I still use that song to get hype. Salute.
21) Ric Flair (PL3DGE, 2011) - PL3DGE contains some gems, but this one is epic. A moment to talk about the search for the sample. “You Make My Life A Sunny Day” is a Phoenix Express song. I’d never heard it until “Ric Flair”. BTW, it took me FOREVER to locate this damn song— But I did. He did a show at The Howard Theatre in DC and performed this joint. They did a breakdown where the full sample played and Mike sang along with it— He even danced too! At a performance in his hometown ATL, Mike also brought his family onstage and dedicated it to his wife, kids and siblings. It was beautiful. Anyway, Mike is all style on this song. He really gets his Ric Flair on with this one, while giving you some good life advice. He truly does a hell of a job with this track.
22) Big Body Hijack (2010) - “Beamer, Benz or Bentley” had so many remixes, I’m pretty sure I heard myself on this beat. The greatest thing about Killer Mike jackin’ this beat: He got to do whatever the fuck he wanted on it. Stray track, but the flow is straight crack. You could tell he was on his way to hurt rappers feelings. No regard for these cats out there. He abused this track. Just made it his bitch. And that mean double time flow appears on this one too.
23) Burn (PL3DGE, 2011) - This record is a big deal. He speaks the truth about a lot of serious issues facing people like you and me everyday. Oscar Grant, the housing crisis, the corruption of the church, the deteriorating education system, the prison industrial complex and the economy. Killer Mike is not a mouthpiece, but a man with an objective. I think the craziest thing about this song, is that BET banned the video. Huffington Post ran a story on it. Me being the supporter I am, I lit their asses on fire for banning my big homie. To this day I have yet to see a Killer Mike appearance on BET, but it has not stopped his ascension. This could be best summed up by a simple quote, “What a man does not understand, he fears.” If you’re scared, say you’re scared.
24) Ghetto Gospel (R.A.P. Music, 2012) - In a separate post I praised the brilliance that is “Ghetto Gospel”. Mike orders his thoughts perfectly here. This offers you another view into the world of Michael Render. God’s presence is felt on this one. As Mike narrates this tale over a brilliant soundscape, you visualize that struggle of being surrounded by sin, but trying to walk a righteous path. You can’t serve two masters, but life ain’t always that cut and dry. Temptation can be a bitch. Honestly, he makes it hard to choose a favorite verse. Because the opening verse is tight, that second one is mean, but that third one is vicious. Lawd.
25) No Come Down performed as Run The Jewels (Run The Jewels, 2013) - Another Run The Jewels track, but this Killer Mike verse is immaculate. The way it unfolds is brilliant. I say this a lot, but he truly rhymes with a cinematic quality. This story finds him captivated by a gorgeous exotic dancer, who propositions him. The series of events that takes place is honestly some of my favorite writing of all last year. He takes you there, though. What man just casually mentions Kemet in a verse, yo? Scholastic shit took place on that song. Every time I hear it, I’m more impressed. It really takes the track in an unexpected direction. Plus he’s so skilled in that he can work time travel into a song where you start set in a strip club. Dopeness.
Truthfully, the most rewarding thing about being a Killer Mike supporter for me is watching his progression. He makes music from a real place. He sounds like he actually gives a fuck. I’ve spent the last 6 years trying to catch up to him on a mental level. Just as a speaker, I’ve tuned into a lot of what he’s said. In his interviews and just when he addresses the crowd at shows, it’s so much more than just promoting a project. I still tune into his interviews when there is no album out. I’m always pushing because he makes me proud to be a supporter. He makes that connection to the people who connect to his music, so it’s easy to want to see him succeed. It’s kinda funny too, because much of this was accomplished just through Twitter. But I don’t take any of it for granted at all. As a person, Michael Render is truly one of my biggest inspirations. And Killer Mike is always going to be in my Top 10 MCs. Y’all be good. Play some Killer Mike, Grind Time Rap Gang, Bang, Bang, Bang!.
Peace, Hip Hop & Purple Rain.