Lots of people loved president Obama’s speech calling for civility Wednesday night. It was a great speech. (Except the line about “jumping in rain puddles in heaven.”) And in that spirit, and because I think it’s good to note when people you often disagree with say something you do agree with, I very much like what David Brooks writes today: “The truth is fragmentary and it’s impossible to capture all of it. There are competing goods that can never be fully reconciled. The world is more complicated than any human intelligence can comprehend.”
But not everyone is in that kind of mood. On his new song, “Burn,” the excellent and not-at-all-well-enough-known Atlanta rapper Killer Mike leans toward the rhetoric of Sarah Palin: “I know that you’re frustrated and you wanna kill shit/Stockpile your weapons ’cause that day just might come real quick.”
I don’t agree. Violence is never the answer. But, as its about the terrible 2009 incident when Oakland police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant while he was pinned to the ground by another police officer, you can understand where the anger comes from. It’s a good song, with a beat constructed out of Funkadelic’s 1970 classic, “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks.”
Mike came up under Outkast the Dungeon Family collective, making a big splash with his song-stealing verse on the 2002 Grammy-winning single “The Whole World.”
He’s since split off and started his own label, Grind Time Records. And if the third installment of his I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind mixtape series, due in March, is anything like the first two, it will be terrific.
Here’s a really good interview Killer Mike did with Awl pal Sacha Jenkins a few years ago. Sacha’s magazine ego trip just launched a new website this week. It’s looking pretty excellent so far. You should check it out. (Disclosure, I used to work for ego trip — and much of what I know about rap, I learned from my former colleagues there.)