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Killer Mike, Venerable Rapper/Activist, Talks New Album, Drug War, and Maybe Running for Office

The OutKast affiliate and longtime Atlanta figurehead speaks on the eve of his new album, "R.A.P. Music," aka "Rebellious African Peoples' Music."

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As an African American, I want the freedom and opportunity that’s promised in the Constitution, that you can get well-paying jobs when young men are working, young women are working, families stay together, communities become better.

JES: Do you think Occupy has been helpful?

KM: I think Occupy is attempting to help. I think that they have me to help. I want to see more diversity in the Atlanta Occupy movement. And I’ve seen a lot of diversity in New York and Oakland. But I support Occupy. People say they don’t have any real leaders, they don’t have any real organization. That doesn’t matter to me. They didn’t have leaders so there was no one to assassinate, but everyone was responsible for different pieces. I take the fact that they don’t have pick-a-head leadership as genius—that everybody can handle certain responsibilities is genius. That the Occupy movement can keep pushing forward and not regress and people get quiet. They’ll continue to get my support.

JES: What are other organizations or movements you feel strongly about?

KM: As a rapper, because I know it’s been a rocky road between Al Sharpton and rappers, I support the work of National Action Network. I think that they have a platform that can help the lowest and the highest in the African-American community and beyond. I really like the work they’re doing. I like the old organizations.  I think they’re doing a good job, but I think that more important than a specific organization, I’m a supporter of ideas. I really think that people need to get together. I think African Americans who are disenfranchised want more rights, want more civil liberties. They’re tired of the cops threatening them, they’re tired of public schools being broken and skeletons of what they’re supposed to be.

Ron Paul is being accused in the African-American community of being a racist. That may be true or that may not be true. I don’t care about that. I care that his policies would immediately free non-violent drug abusers. It would get people with the minds to run businesses back in the community. I care that he cares about freeing and legalizing marijuana. Not just so I can smoke and get high, but you have a hemp industry, you then can put a paper factory in the community so young men could work in it. You then could be creating clothes, so young women could be working. And that’s what I’m about. I’m about what is going to give my people an opportunity to get off the bottom of the well.

JES: You take away those drug laws, and you have half as many people in prison.

KM: Like 66 percent of the people in prison are in for nonviolent drug offenses.

JES: As far as the election goes, are you supporting anyone in particular?

KM: No, this is going to be the first presidential election I don’t vote. I’m very disgusted with former administrations and their handling of particular African-American issues and I’m pretty disgusted with this administration also. What I do is chart: What has happened differently in my community that I can say we have opportunity and have seen real change? And I have not seen that. I have not seen a young black male job program. And people keep saying, Why do you keep going back to young black male jobs? Because any time you talk about crime, that’s what you talk about. If you wanna talk about reducing crime, you have to talk about increasing economic opportunity. And the way you do, after World War II, after the '70s, is giving people jobs.