NRA member.

Businessman.

Politically active.

Encourages his Twitter followers to join the police department.

Advocate for hunting and fishing.

I’m not talking about Ted Nugent or any other conservative with a platform, I’m referring to Michael Render, better known to indie hip-hop circles as Killer Mike and who is best known from his time with Outkast and the Purple Ribbon All-Stars. For a bit, he went off of the grid.


Somewhere along the way, Render quietly became an activist through his music. When his association with Outkast didn’t work out, he toiled on the underground scene until he partnered up with El-P, formerly of indie hip-hop duo Company Flow.

Due to being off the mainstream music scene, he organically built a fan base that was much more diverse than the one he’d had before. These days, Render speaks out against racism and police brutality among other things when he makes the rounds on cable news networks:


Render, and his Run The Jewels partner, El-P, performed in the St. Louis area the night when the world found out that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson would not be charged in the killing of Michael Brown. Render encouraged those assembled with a simple request: to mentor a child.

He knew that Brown’s encounter with Wilson was a microcosm for police/black community relations in America and the strained relationship that exists between the two. He knows that there’s a reason why the police are hated and feared in black and brown communities. He also understands that the increasing militarization of America’s police departments has come at the price of the officer who once walked his beat and while having a relationship with community members.

These days, when someone sees a police officer, most likely they are afraid of them.

He said as much when interviewed for a Grantland podcast:

"I'm appalled that regular Americans are apathetic. I'm appalled that people choose to use the word 'thug' as a code word for 'n-----.' I'm appalled at everyday citizens... When will we, as an American constituency, tell our politicians enough's enough? Enough mayors supporting murderous police departments. Enough police chiefs having to give excuses for murderous police officers."


One segment of the population refuses to have an uncomfortable conversation about our country’s problems with race while another is sick and tired of being ignored. Anything that points a finger to the status quo brings out the superiority complex in the white male psyche.

Like many other musicians who pushed awareness of social justice issues through their music, Render is taking his platform to new heights. From appearing on cable news networks to speaking at colleges and universities, the Atlanta native is a voice that our generation needs. He’s not connected with a particular political party and he lets his pragmatic nature open the door for much needed conversation.

Render recently went to Capitol Hill after he, T.I., and Big Boi signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding a Mississippi high school student who was suspended for recording a song accusing two coaches of sexual misconduct. He said this to the New York Times regarding the case:

“Anyone who is learned in law,” Killer Mike said, “is capable of separating art and lyrics, whether you agree with them or not, and actual human behavior. I think the courts understand it when it’s Johnny Cash. I think they understand it when it’s Robert Nesta Marley.”


His recent barbershop conversation with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is a must watch.

 

He tells people what they need to hear. When Render speaks, he delivers clear and thought-out reasoning from a man who doesn’t alienate people to get them riled by creating a convenient villain out of a much maligned demographic.

Most of the time, I feel like I’m watching 1980’s pro wrestling when watching highlights from the presidential debates. After what we’ve seen this week from prominent online activists, Render’s voice is needed more than ever.

After all, we could use something different.