Killer Mike is a rapper who isn’t afraid to show love to another MC. He’s publicly stated time and time again that his all-time favorite group are his one-time mentors OutKast and when it comes to rap solist, the Atlanta vets says Jay-Z is at the top of his list. On the tenth anniversary of one of Jay’s all-time classic releases, The Blueprint, Mike looks back on the era and what the Jiggaman meant to the game at that time. —Shaheem Reid

“Everybody that knows me, knows that my favorite rapper in terms of who I feel that has pushed the culture is Jay-,” he told XXL. “Truthfully he’s my favorite rapper. I just think Jay is an incredible human being. And when I say Jay-Z, I have to qualify that I'm talking about the franchise for Roc-A-Fella. I like the new Jay-Z, he’s dope. But I was inspired by the crew called Roc-A-Fella.”

I grew up in a generation that crack had decimated and we had been taught to distrust and use and abuse each other,” he continued. “What Roc-A-Fella—the few short years it was in existence—did, was allow young black men to see it differently. What two guys from Harlem and a guy from Brooklyn could do. First of all, just that; bring two boroughs together. Then going to get a crew of MCs from Philadelphia and creating a style that still is mimicked today. The Jay-Z style, that hybrid out of Philadelphia. I adore Jay-Z for being that person ten years ago and today. I adore him and admire him for giving me Beanie Sigel, for giving me Freeway, for giving me Young Chris and those flow patterns and that whisper rap. I appreciate that."

"You wouldn’t have the set up today for Philadelphia for Meek Mill, who I love, if you had not had Roc-A-Fella,” he added. “So when I’m talking about Blueprint, I’m talking about Jay-Z and Damon Dash and Kareem 'Biggs' Burke, because those three men did what a lot of black men couldn’t do. For a very finite amount of time, they put bullshit to the side and made the world pay attention. And eventually they made every knee bow. That’s why I adhere to lessons I learned from the Roc-A-Fella run."