Few musicians have been as outspoken on issues of police brutality and white supremacy as Run the Jewels, and especially Killer Mike. The Atlanta-bred rapper and activist makes semi-frequent appearances on television news media and also drove attention to a local election by briefly naming himself as a candidate.
While in Britain last week, the group stopped by BBC headquarters to talk about the state of race relations and civil society in America. In a special BBC news video, the duo specifically touched on a few related topics, including their much-talked-about tour stop in St. Louis when the decision to not convict Darren Wilson came down. They learned about the verdict before going on stage at that concert, after which Killer Mike broke down sobbing and spoke at length about the fear he had for his sons’ lives and the personal importance of his friendship with the white El-P; in the video, El-P addressed his feelings during that time:
“We had the weird, tragic and serendipitous experience of being the only band, when the verdict was coming down in St. Louis, attempting to get into St. Louis. Everyone else was driving as fast as they could out of St. Louis. And every word that you’re saying, all of a sudden, means about 100 times more than it meant before. And seeing my friend talk, and- I was crying on stage. It was very powerful.”
Later on, Killer Mike spoke addressed why he feels, given the evidence of the past year and the context of American revolutionary history, that the uprising in Ferguson last year was beneficial:
Riots work. And I’ve never said that in that way before. I’m an American because of a riot. The Boston Tea Party is sold to us, from the time we’re kindergarteners to the time we graduate high school, we’re told that Americans, patriots got so fed up with paying taxes to the crown that they decided to burn some shit to the ground…
So when people say riots don’t work? Look, Ferguson was over 60 percent as a black community. They had less than 60 percent representation in politics—far less. Post-riots, they have two new black city council members, they have actual advocates in the community now, and the police chief retired. So, if it was argued that riots worked for Ferugson? Abso-fucking-lutely they did.
Check out the video by clicking here.