Austin, TX

Killer Mike has entered the race for most anticipated rap album of 2023 with his new solo LP Michael, which will reportedly see the Atlanta heavyweight peel back the layers of his life alongside an all-star supporting cast.

The Run the Jewels rapper held a listening session for his forthcoming project last week during SXSW in Austin, Texas, where he held court inside a cathedral and debuted the new tunes for an intimate audience.

According to those in attendance, the album takes listeners on a “journey” through Mike’s life and features appearances from fellow rap legends André 3000 and Lil Wayne, as well as his comedy friend Dave Chappelle.

“Yesterday I got the chance to sit and listen to @killermike new solo project ‘Michael,'” Milwaukee radio host/producer DJ Kenny Perez wrote on Instagram. “I can with out a doubt tell you to RUN and embrace it when it drops.”

He added: “The project is journey through his life and he doesn’t hold back. Collabs with Andre 3000, Lil Wayne, Dave Chapelle [sic] and more.”

One video from the listening session contained a snippet of another collaboration between Killer Mike and fellow Atlanta native 6LACK.

Killer Mike also brought select songs from Michael to life during a performance at Stubb’s as part of SPIN’s SXSW showcase.

According to the publication, the Dungeon Family alum performed a song called “Shed Tears,” which “made good use of the gospel backing vocals atop a deep bass-and-drum groove.”

He also debuted another track titled “High + Holy,” which is described as “Mike’s tribute to his wife, who he says encourages him to always search for a higher purpose (while also passing him back the joint).”

“My life truly is a testimony for what happens when you show up and keep believing something is calling you to do better for yourself,” Mike told the crowd during the show. “I don’t know what’s after this life, but I will treasure this night for the rest of my life.”

While further details remain scarce, Killer Mike released two potential songs from the album last year in “RUN” featuring Dave Chappelle and the currently incarceratedYoung Thug, as well as the DJ Paul-produced “TALK’N THAT SHIT!”

Michael will serve as Mike’s first solo album in over a decade following 2012’s R.A.P. Music, which boasted appearances from Big Boi, T.I., the late Trouble and others.

T.I. & Killer Mike Ask ‘What Happened To Atlanta?’ On New Yung Booke & Skooly Collab

T.I. & Killer Mike Ask ‘What Happened To Atlanta?’ On New Yung Booke & Skooly Collab

It also marked the beginning of his potent and prolific partnership with El-P, with whom he’s released four critically-acclaimed projects as Run the Jewels, breathing new life and purpose into both of their careers.

“Before this album, I thought I had had my last hurrah,” Killer Mike told HipHopDX last year while reflecting on R.A.P. Music for its 10th anniversary.

“And not that I didn’t think I was capable or anything. It’s just that the only ray of hope I had before this record was when I remember Rolling Stone put ‘Ric Flair’ from PL3DGE up at their top 50 songs of the year. And that’s what made me say, ‘I’m not going to quit.'”

He added: “I was a shark and blood was in the water. It was like, I’m not giving up. After me and El worked together, I’m like, ‘Oh no, I’m on their muthafuckin’ neck. They can’t stop this.’ So it revitalized me. So you all got to deal with me another 10, 15 years, and I feel like a young man still.”

In addition to Michael, Killer Mike is also currently working on a fifth Run the Jewels album. “I say this with a smile and a wink — me and El-P were in the studio together,” he told Consequence last year. “We may have messed around and started Run the Jewels 5, so we’ll see what happens.”