Killer Mike Unleashes 'Monster'

Excerpted from the magazine for

"Rap is supposed to scare soccer moms," declares Killer Mike, whose debut, "Monster," is due March 11 via Aquemini/Columbia Records. The Atlanta-based MC, a protege of fellow Atlantans (and Aquemini proprietors) OutKast, savvily blends hardcore, profane, and, yes, soccer-mom-scaring sensibility with literate, overarching social consciousness.

Killer Mike says the ground swell of such street artists as himself, 50 Cent, and Lil' Flip indicate a grassroots shift in hip-hop buyers' tastes. "The emperor has no clothes," he notes of rap's fading bling-bling culture. "The economy's f***ed up -- why are [rappers] talking about Cristal, about 'your lips, your eyes'? What people want now is what's going on in the streets."

Killer Mike's current single, "A.D.I.D.A.S.," featuring OutKast's Big Boi, dropped just before Christmas. (Killer Mike was a guest on OutKast's Grammy Award-winning 2002 hit "The Whole World"). "A.D.I.D.A.S." is No. 20 on Billboard's Hot Rap Tracks and No. 42 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks.

Born Michael Render 24 years ago in Atlanta's Adamsville neighborhood, Killer Mike honed his skills as a teen battle rapper in the city's underground scene. Declaring himself now "at peace" with his past -- which includes periods of crack dealing and a stint as a philosophy major at Morehouse College that was cut short by a lack of funds -- Killer Mike says it was a homemade recording with his then-group the Slumlordz that caught the attention of OutKast's Antwan "Big Boi" Patton.

"He was selling albums out of his trunk," Big Boi says, noting that he was drawn to Killer Mike's "intelligent street-guy" persona, as well as "his freestyling ability [being] off the meter. He's enlightening and entertaining; he has knowledge of the world and what's going on."

The artist recorded "Monster" during a two-year period between stints on the road as a guest artist with OutKast. It features a bevy of producers, including the Beat Bullies, OutKast's Andre 3000, Swiffman, and Mr. DJ.

"If producers had [recording studio software] ProTools in their homes, I'd record in their bedrooms," Killer Mike says. "I saw right away that I didn't want to get in hock with the record company [for studio fees]." Even when he was ensconced in OutKast's Stankonia Recording Studios, "I worked in a small room there ... I'd go off the road for a week or two, maybe three, and get down to it. That's why this record sounds so urgent. I had to get comfortable with cutting songs fast."

Excerpted from the March 8, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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