Considering May is Mental Health Awareness month, the return of REVOLT’s Love & Respect with Killer Mike couldn’t have been more well-timed. The second season officially premiered on April 18 and includes interviews with Bernice King, Jack White, Kim Jones, Druski, Erick Erickson, Aunjanue Ellis and Fab 5 Freddy, among others. The show gives Killer Mike and his guests an opportunity to discuss important societal issues, including mental health.
During a recent Zoom interview with HipHopDX, Killer Mike spoke about the importance of giving people — especially men — a platform to discuss personal issues in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
“I got a chance to talk to a brother named Lorenzo about men’s mental health and partnering with barber shops to get men the mental health they need, which is something my shops [S.W.A.G.] are going to be participating in, too,” he says. “I didn’t understand that suicide was such a high rate amongst men, and Black men in particular now. It’s rising it seems.
“So getting men in a good place from a mental health perspective should be a priority for the public because guys deserve to be checked on, too. I love the fact that I’m from a friendship circle that does that for one another and we’re trying to expand that philosophy to others.”
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The latest episode of Love & Respect aired on Monday night (May 16) and featured Aunjanue Ellis. Killer Mike was particularly looking forward to the conversation due to their shared admiration for civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
“Fannie Lou Hamer is one of my personal heroes,” he says. “She’s a hero of the people who taught me how to organize. We had such a delightful conversation that was in being Southern, based on being the nuance of being Southern and the responsibility of being Southern. I’m really excited for people to see that, because for years, people have misunderstood Southern-ness and our duty.
“They wonder how we don’t just move away and never come back. But there’s something to say to be raised as a Southerner and to love the place you’re from while simultaneously hating some of the practices that have come out of there from oppression.”
— Killer Mike (@KillerMike) May 16, 2022
In addition to being an advocate for mental health awareness, Killer Mike has become a prominent voice in the political space, and his deep knowledge of how the government works can be somewhat intimidating for anyone willing to dive into a discussion with him. Although he jokes he doesn’t know as much as his grandmother did, Mike is clearly well-informed on socio-political topics — and he has both his grandmother and high school civics teacher Ms. Ellison to thank.
“My brain doesn’t cut off, so I’m often picking up something and reading ,” he says. “I actually will pick up a newspaper and read versus just being told by CNN or MSNBC. The other thing is, Ms. Ellison. God bless the dead from Frederick Douglas High School. She taught high school civics, flunked my mom and told my mom, ‘I’m going to see you again.’ When my mom saw her again, I was in my mother’s belly. The next time I saw Ms. Ellison, I was in her class.
“She was tough as nails, but she made sure we knew about judicial, executive and federal. She made sure we knew every little nuance, why the Bill of Rights is different from The Constitution, what they promised you. She made me fall in love with our system of government. It’s not perfect, but it gives us an opportunity to participate in a way that other governments have not. And I value that. I value that deeply because being of the Pan-Africanist thought, I’m looking at what Black people are going through in the Caribbean, what Black people are going through South America, West Africa and beyond. There are not very many systems that allow for the up mobility and participation in government as this republic. I value this republic with the same fever that I challenged her to be all she said she could be.”
He continues, “My love of this republic comes from the fact my grandmother loved due process, and my teacher, Ms. Ellison, were all about it. They brought me to a point where I just knew that in some way I was going to be involved. I didn’t know I was necessarily going to be regarded as a political commentator as such, but I knew I be involved some way — and here we are.”
But it took Killer Mike a minute to understand just how serious Ms. Ellison was about her class. On the first day of school, Mike remembers he was “talking shit and laughing with the homies” when she asked him who his parents were. After realizing she had Mike’s mother Denise in her class, she told him, “Baby, go ask your mother about me.”
“The next day, I’m sitting directly in front of her desk, shutting the fuck up because that’s what my mother told me to do,” he says with a laugh. “Go in next class tomorrow and shut the fuck up. So I go to the back of the class, I shut the fuck the up. Ms. Ellison, she notices how much quieter I am and well behaved and asked why. And I said, ‘Well, I talked to my mom.’ And she said, ‘Well, what’d she tell you?’ I say, ‘She told me to shut up.’ She said, ‘Good, come up here and sit with me.’
“For the rest of that semester, I was directly in front of that woman’s place. She was shaped, she was shaped like a little beach ball. She was round, she had a prosthetic leg. She wore a hair like in a mushroom cut all the way. She was a character. But that woman, I will say, as mean as she could be, that woman made me care about the United States government and this Republican a way that no other teacher could.”
Love & Respect with Killer Mike airs on Mondays via REVOLT. Full episodes can also be watched on the REVOLT app or via On Demand. Mike assures viewers, “We have a wide range of guests, and I’m excited about the topics and doing what we do, making sure that we bring conversations that people usually wouldn’t see to the public.”
Check back with HipHopDX soon for Part II of the Killer Mike interview.