You probably know Killer Mike, one half of Run The Jewels along with El-P. He’s been getting a lot of well-deserved attention thanks to the scalp-splitting RTJ 2, and he must have felt like capitalizing over the weekend, because he decided to let go of his unreleased mixtape from 2008, Sunday Morning Massacres.
A cursory listen might tell you why the mixtape didn’t originally happen: Mike is freestyling over contemporary beats about Biblical myths, Tuskegee experiments, and not blaming George Bush for everything. People must have thought he was crazy.
Six years later it all makes sense, but if you’re still hesitant about downloading the tape, read this quick breakdown of just a couple reasons why Sunday Morning Massacres is worth it. Killer Mike stays underrated, but he’s finally starting to get the shine he deserves.
1. He disses rappers who jock Jay-Z over Jay Z’s “Jockin’ Jay Z.”
Mike disses rappers who try to be like Jay Z, which is basically every mainstream rapper at one point or another in their career. On paper the song should be kinda corny. Getting at rappers who want to be like Jay is almost cliché in and of itself, but Mike knows to mention how many people are biting Lil’ Wayne, too, and the concept works because even as he’s rhyming over that terrible beat, he still does the song better than Jay did.
2. He reimagines Cain and Abel as a modern-day drug tale.
This is so genius. Over Game and Wayne’s “My Life,” Mike places Cain and Abel in today’s society, where they grow up without their father around drug-dealing cousins. He weaves references to KRS-One’s “Love’s Gonna Getcha” not once but twice within the song, and the cruel heat of the streets ultimately triumph. His mic technique is so colorful, it’s a breath of fresh air every time the song plays.
3. He flipped “My President Is Black” to “The Devil Is A Lie” five years before Rick Ross and Jay Z made a song of the same name.
The cool thing about Mike is he can toe the line between being a gangster rapper and a conscious backpacker, often occupying both roles at the same time. He equates most rappers with the devil over Jeezy’s triumphant anthem and takes the government to task, despite having Obama in office. Blasphemous? Yes. Wrong? No.
4. He wrote two different songs with two different perspectives on the same issue.
2007 was the year Michael Vick was prosecuted for dog fighting, and it’s hard to ignore that in the context of these two songs. “Sampson” is a young black athlete who models himself after a street figure. Mike dives into the meaning of names in the Jewish bible and spins it into the pressure black sports superstars face at the start of their careers. And no, none of your favorite rappers would be capable of doing that.
The flip side is “Delilah,” the female figure Mike sees as seducing the Sampsons of the world with ill intent. Bigga explores the lighter side of falling in love, and the song’s breezy island feel contributes to the mood. The same conflict, but covered through two different lenses. Subtle but brilliant.
5. He ends the tape with humility, not defiance.
The final song is a private conversation between Killer Mike and God, and it’s powerful. Mike’s pen is vivid, almost tactile, so you can nearly reach out and touch the images he paints. It also speaks volumes that while every other rapper acts like they have everything figured out, Mike is wise enough to know he doesn’t know everything. His humbled offering of thanks is a uncommon but welcome mindf*ck but most rappers would say they are God.