Humility is not a word often used to describe rappers. The idea of standing toe to toe with anyone and battling it out bar for bar emboldens most rappers to think they’re the greatest. It’s a combat sport, and hip hop rarely takes any prisoners, so there is a need for such valuable armour. Equally, when picking out one’s best work, few rappers are candid enough to decline the question, including Killer Mike.
Over the last decade, the unexpected success of Run The Jewels has finally given Killer Mike, and El-P, the platform they deserve. For Mike, there’s nobody he’d rather be going to battle with, and there’s no end to the respect he has for his partner in crime.
The duo were formed on a whim with no great expectations for Run The Jewels would be anything more than a one-off project before they returned to their solo endeavours. Before beginning the duo, both were on the same page after going through an agonising period of turmoil professionally and personally.
At first, El-P was recruited to help produce Mike’s fifth album, R.A.P. Music, and they instantly hit it off. They decided to give it a shot as a duo and ended up stumbling upon more notoriety in twelve months than they’d accumulated across their expansive careers combined. but what was the one song Mike is most proud of?
Well, in typical style, Mike couldn’t land on just one song, he had to shoot for two, telling Complex: “I don’t know, ’cause I’ve done a lot of good ones. But I’d have to say it would be a tie between ‘God In The Building I’ and ‘Ric Flair.’ To me, I love the records riding around in m0y head, boppin’ to it, I think I’m gettin’ my rap shit off. But you have to see me perform those two songs live. Like, ‘God In The Building’ brings people to tears when I perform it, ’cause I do it with the beat and then a capella. I end my shows with it, and it literally brings people to tears.
And you haven’t seen, to me, a more exciting record than ‘Ric Flair’ performed live. It is just epic. At the end, the beat drops, and people that have never heard the record are singing it. So those are two of the most powerful songs I perform, and they happen to be my two favourite records. The only other one I could have named—which you guys have probably never heard of, it’s from a mixtape—is a record called ‘Niggas Down South,’ and that one, whew.”
Listen below to Killer Mike’s favourite songs.