Senator Bernie Sanders has a new best friend, and his name is Killer Mike.
You might know Mike from his role as one half of the rap duo Run the Jewels or for being a frequent Outkast collaborator, but the music industry is now recognizing him for his outspoken appreciation of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In particular, Mike is concerned with connecting Sanders to the Black community and tossing out the notion that the senator doesn’t appeal to minorities.
Despite being known as one of the most politically-charged rappers in the hip-hop scene, Mike has always been adamant that he’s a “social commentator” who doesn’t “care too much for any political party.” After a few listens to his most socially provocative songs like “Reagan” and “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),” it’s easy to see why Mike isn’t fond of either of America’s major parties —Reagan declared the “war on drugs” over 30 years ago and not one President or politician since has stopped the abuse of minorities by the police.
So seeing Mike in an Atlanta barbershop talking one-on-one with Bernie Sanders was to me more of a relief than a surprise; not only did Mike express concerns about police brutality and other issues relevant to the hip-hop scene and Black community, but he had finally found a politician he could put his faith in. In the six-part series called “Talking Shop w/ Bernie Sanders” on Mike’s Youtube channel, the rapper and senator go in-depth on issues ranging from socialism, to economics, to health care. It’s refreshing to see the honesty between the two concerning topics of poverty and race when coverage of these subjects is normally overshadowed by news of Donald Trump’s latest racist remark.
Amazingly, the barbershop was only the beginning of what has become a loyal partnership between the two. Recently, Mike represented Bernie in the post-debate spin room for the January 17th Democratic debate, answering questions on his behalf. On the same day, Mike and Bernie joined forces with social activist Dr. Cornel West and former senator Nina Turner on a livestreamed panel to discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on racial and social justice today.
The fact that Killer Mike, despite his previous disillusionment with politics, has attached himself so closely to the senator sends an important message to the hip-hop community: Bernie Sanders is someone to look out for in this election. He is addressing the issues of police brutality and racial inequality which have featured in hip-hop lyrics since the days of N.W.A and has the approval of one of the most socially-conscious rappers alive. And while only time will tell if he truly deserves my vote, Killer Mike has me feeling the Bern.
Benj Salkind is an undeclared sophomore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @benjsalkind.