In the trailer for Killer Mike’s new Netflix series, Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, he starts out by proclaiming that anything that does not benefit black people “needs to be burned the fuck down.”
“Trigger Warning is about examining cultural taboos and giving viewers the space to examine the “what ifs” and “why not’s” that limit how some people move and operate in the world,” reads the press release. “In six episodes, we explore the human condition using nontraditional approaches. Not everyone will agree with my methods — and some of what we’re putting out is fucking crazy — but this show is about embracing your freedom to challenge societal expectations and conformity. This show is if an anarchist determined the status quo.”
While this bold proclamation would have earned him a series of clutched pearls and screams from the GOP in years past, one can’t help but cheer him on in the age of Trump, where the worst type of humanity drags itself from the sewer in which it was dwelling for years to show that, much to our collective chagrin, they’re not dead after all.
And that, said the Atlanta born-and-bred rapper, is the whole point.
“This system — this capitalist system — is broken now, but it never worked for black people,” he told HipHopDX in an exclusive phone interview. “Now it’s my job to make sure that black people benefit from the same capitalism that white people have benefitted from for so many years.”
So it goes with this six-episode series, in which the man born Michael Santiago Render attempts to not only circumvent the system that has systemically oppressed black people for generations but to make it work for the black people of the 21st Century…all with his trademark wink-and-a-smile that has peppered his twenty-plus year Hip Hop career.
But that’s not to say that this attempt didn’t hit a few speed bumps along the way. In the first episode, “Living Black,” Killer Mike attempts to only support black businesses for 72 hours. This attempt includes a hilarious sojourn into an ATL strip club, in which a clueless Asian stripper gives him a face full of ass before he informs her of his quest. When she realizes she isn’t getting paid because of the color of her skin, she stomps off in disgust — a scene that, while funny, also has an underlying message that can’t be ignored.
Mike says that felt the need to show the struggles and the hurdles so that other young black people who are watching the show can feel inspired to get into the “billionaire mindset” that he’s learned to have over the course of his own career.
“My wife, Shay, and I are co-owners of a chain of barber shops,” he said. “I also run a financial literacy firm, and I have my hands in several other businesses. I have a hustler’s mindset, you know, and I think it’s important that I pass that information down to other young black men, especially, who may not know better. I don’t care if you get money behind the mic or on the streets, or even in a grocery store. You just need to know what to do with that money when you get it. Let it work for you.”
But it’s the third episode, “White Gang Privilege,” that gets Mike really passionate about his quest, both on the show and on the phone. When the Run the Jewels rapper realized that the notorious white biker gang, Hell’s Angels, had a brand of soda out on the market, he set out to do the same for the equally notorious black gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. In so creating “Blood Pop” and “Crip-a-Cola,” respectively, for the two adversaries, he taught them about the importance of entrepreneurship and “going legit.” (Not one to miss an opportunity for humor, Killer Mike hired a standard issue white millennial to design the logo for Crip-a-Cola; the look on the gang members’ faces as the hapless marketer tries to the explain the importance of having a “more corporate” logo is meme-worthy.)
While some critics have pushed back at Mike for encouraging black men to get into the business of sugar — especially given that sugar contributes to a myriad of health issues, including diabetes, obesity, and hypertension — Mike brushes the criticism off, remaining firm in a quasi-libertarian philosophy that people have free will to put what they please in their own bodies, while emphasizing that his ultimate goal was black empowerment.
“It’s not my job to tell you what’s right for you, health-wise,” he said. “That’s on you. You’re grown — you should know better. You should know that you need everything in moderation. And who am I to begrudge young black men who want to own a legitimate business? If they get 2% of Pepsi’s market, they can make millions — if not billions — of dollars. And you mean to tell me that a white man can put cocaine in soda and become the number one soft-drink company in the world [a reference to Coca-Cola’s former practice of putting cocaine in its drink until 1903; Coca-Cola has since tried to deny these claims], but we’re going to take black men to task for putting sugar in a drink? I don’t think so.”
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike is on Netflix now.