Killer Mike Talks His Identity, New Show and Black Financial Literacy

Killer Mike is a lot things: musician, activist, and businessman among many others. Most importantly though, he’s Michael Render. 

A household name since the aughts because of hits like Kryptonite and A.D.I.D.A.S., Render has become more widely known for his outspoken political views. Starting in August 2014 during his CNN appearance discussing the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people were introduced to another aspect of him. His impassioned words almost immediately went viral. One of the most standout statements from the conversation is still widely quoted: “Whatever this country is willing to do to the least looked-upon…to Black people, to those males, will eventually happen to all Americans.”

But, those who are in Render’s immediate social circle have always known his duplicitous nature, and therefore his tentacled approach to entertainment, business, socio-political activism, and Black financial empowerment is nothing new to them. 

“I got a chance to see Black excellence at every level, from the working class to the most prestigious of us,” he shared with Essence referring to being surrounded by entrepreneurial family members growing up, including his grandmother who was among the first to own her own home in their neighborhood. “One thing that community taught me was, you do right by first and foremost your own name and character. My grandfather would say, ‘don’t embarrass yourself. Take care of yourself and your sisters. Don’t embarrass us, our name or Black people.’ 

He said he was given a charge at a very young age to do his part in ensuring the world at large recognizes his hometown of Atlanta as a business epicenter for Black people for more than 120 years.

To hear him speak about his home is like sitting at the feet of a studied historian. 

“From the Atlanta Conference that was held in the early 1900s by WEB DuBois to civil rights activist Andrew Young being wise enough to use public and private partnerships to bring prosperity to Atlanta in the 60s, we’ve always been viable,” Render said. 

Launched in 2021, Render’s talk show ‘Love & Respect With Killer Mike’  features interviews with a host of guests that are as broad as his interests. Everyone from his good friend Big Boi, and cinematic giant Tyler Perry to Grady Hospital’s Dr. Kimberly Manning sat down with Render to discuss the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine.  The show is back for a new season and is just as enrapturing,  with interviews that include Jack White from the iconic rock group, The White Stripes. 

The conversations are those that Render said he doesn’t take lightly. So much so, he said he shows up to every interview as the person his family raised him to be. 

“I introduce myself with my given name at the beginning of every show because my mother named me Michael Santiago Render,” he shared. “I don’t know why she got so exotic in the middle, but the person talking to you right there is Michael. Killer Mike is a character that was given to a teenager in a rap battle, and that teenager created this badass fictional character called Killer Mike because that’s what you do in rap. And rap is like warrior songs from African tribes or from the Iliad by the Greeks. It is what the Scots and Welch would do when they were at war–they beef up your machismo. But behind all these heroes, were just men and women. And I think it’s important for people to know that Michael Render is who you’re talking to when I step off the stage.” 

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