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Killer Mike:
Beautiful Struggle

XXL_Killer_Mike_132Ph.jpgLast summer, Killer Mike was poised to drop Ghetto Extraordinary, his second album and his debut on Big Boi’s new Purple Ribbon label. XXL even reviewed it and gave it an XL (and we hadn’t even heard his fiery additions). He has since appeared on Big Boi Presents Got Purp? Vol. II, a label compilation that features him on the smash single “Kryptonite,” but his solo album stalled after one single. Killer connected with to explain why he’s leaving Sony and where he plans to go.

Listen to Killer Mike’s “Niggas Down South” (featuring Bun B)

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After your lead single “Chrome” came and went, it seemed like someone pressed pause on Ghetto Extraordinary. What’s going on with Sony and Purple Ribbon?
Sony had grievances with Big Boi because they said he wasn’t doing [enough] promo with me. Big Boi felt that the whole project didn’t get the look it deserved at Sony, so he asked could they sever their business ties, and Sony agreed. As of right now, contractually, I’m still on Sony. They still workin’ out the details of me getting out. I’m in the process of hopefully signing a new deal with another record company. I’m still gonna be on Purple Ribbon, it’s just gonna be another distributor. I have some options. I can’t talk a lot about it.

We heard there were some issues with getting the “Chrome” video that Hype Williams did played…
Yeah, I shot a beautiful video, man. We submitted it then BET decided they would no longer show poles in videos. It’s their prerogative. I just know that from now on, when I do my videos, I will have a copy of the rules and standards—or whatever they may be for that particular week, month, or year—for BET and MTV. BET said they didn’t have a problem with the smoke bein’ blown in the video, but they wouldn’t show the poles. MTV said they wouldn’t show the smoke in the video but they would show the pole. Ultimately, you know, it’s shit I’m used to. My name is Killer Mike, which makes it hard for me to get certain backing and endorsements from certain companies. A band like The Killers, they get great press, they get great reviews. For some reason a 6’3” black man bein’ “Killer” Mike is a lil’ more threatening than a bunch of 5’8” white guys known as The Killers.

Is there any truth to the rumor that Diddy is signing you to Bad Boy to distribute your album?
I can’t talk a lot about it. Honestly, Diddy is a good dude. I’d love to be in business with him. I haven’t discussed it at length beyond the fact that he really is signing Southern artists and helping Southern artists step onto a bigger plateau.

What’s your connection to Diddy?
He been around for years, man, but actually, Big Boi is workin’ on a track with him. Big Boi was just playin’ some music that he had done, and some of the music was from Ghetto Extraordinary. Diddy heard it and liked it. I was glad to see that a cat who’s traditionally known for shiny suits and doin’ shit real big—poppin’ yellow bottles—he really got the grit of my album. That raw Southern hip-hop shit, that’s the shit that he’s goin’ crazy about. He came to town and he didn’t have my phone number—he got my number from a nigga I know in the street. And this nigga [Puffy] is like a half billionaire? That’s pretty impressive.

You don’t think he overshadows artists?
It’s not that Puff takes your shine; you just gotta be a nigga that know how to shine. Puff didn’t take no steam from Ma$e, he didn’t take no steam from Biggie; he added to what they gave. When I saw Biggie in that suit and I seen that lil’ skinny nigga run out next to him in a suit, the nigga who owns the company hype-manning for him, this shows that this is a nigga that, by hook or by crook, is gonna help his artists win. For all the shit niggas talked about dude, if he standing next to you, you know you gonna be in the magazine Monday. If he’s not standing next to you, you’re prayin’ that your publicist is good enough to get you in the magazine.

How soon do you expect to sign a distribution deal somewhere?
Shout-out to the lawyers, I want this thing done in the next couple of weeks.

After papers are signed, will fans finally hear Ghetto Extraordinary?
I want those songs to make it. I feel like there’s a chance they may, but if Sony doesn’t release the album and they only release me, then that puts me in the position of having to create another album. I just don’t have time to wait, sit around, twiddle my thumbs, play with my dick and hope that it happens. I can’t afford to stop while Purple Ribbon and Sony figure their shit out. I started recording another album. I want it out this summer. Right now, I’m in the process of securing an independent deal for Grind Time [Killer Mike’s crew] and us putting out independent music together. Grind Time plans to drop two albums this year. I’m just making sure that we’re establishing our brand, making sure we’re doin’ what we need to do to progress.

You’re building the Grind Time brand, but you’re also part of Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon brand. How do you negotiate that?
Purple Ribbon is the label. Grind Time is the gang. I’m in a gang. If you work for the city and you a Blood from Brooklyn, you’s a Blood. As far as Killer Mike goes on Purple Ribbon, I want my shit played. In terms of the other shit that’s there, I like it, but if there’s one radio slot left, then I need that for that Grind Time rap gang. I want Grind Time to be a presence on the radio.

What do you mean when you call Grind Time a “rap gang”?
Gangs are social organizations formed—most of the time—as protection against an opposing force. My whole shit is we tryin’ to protect each other from this bullshit. I don’t want [other Grind Time members] to have to go through the shit I went through in my recording career.

Previously, there was some tension between you and Andre 3000, and Big Boi can’t love you branding Grind Time when he’s trying to brand Purple Ribbon. What is your relationship like with OutKast right now?
I don’t really have the ability to sugarcoat, kiss ass, play with your dick, tickle your nipple. I always presume or assume I’m talking to someone of equal standing—I don’t give a fuck if they got a million dollars more, a million dollars less than me. I try to treat everyone like they on the same level, shoot straight, tell it like it is, and it’s not a criticism or a critique meant to topple or to bring anybody down. That’s created some tension between me and OutKast. But like I tell ’Dre, “I love you, nigga. You saved my life. You and Big Boi changed my life for the better, so I would never in my life disrespect you.”

How involved will Big and ’Dre be with the new album?
They will not be as involved on this album. OutKast is about to drop a movie [Idlewild]. They about to drop an album. I went into two albums to some degree trying to balance what I wanted to do and satisfying or living up to a certain standard that OutKast had set. But this time I’m just doing what I want to do. All I will have is [songs like] “Never Scared” and “Re-AKshon” on this album. Like “Body Rock”—that verse got my name so fire hot in the street right now. Who the fuck am I to try to get on something else?

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