Rap music is no stranger to underrated acts. MCs often grind for years or even decades in the underground without a small piece of the recognition they deserve; and few know that struggle quite like Killer Mike. The Georgia MC/community activist was a people’s champ of the south for over a decade before breaking big with Brooklyn MC/producer El-P as one half of Run the Jewels. Mike has always straddled the line between street-level drug stories with a pro-Black edge and winking excess in his rhymes in the past, and that versatility has translated to many a dope verse.
We know the ATL bruiser will be rolling up some green for his 41st birthday today, so here’s twenty of his best guest features, in no particular order.
20. OutKast – “Snappin & Trappin'”
Mike’s very first appearance on record was a firestarter on its own. We’re still washing off the filth 16 years later.
Best line: “Guaranteed to get more cut than a barber/I betcha I’ll drill your heifer like Black & Decker/
The pussy wrecker and White Water couldn’t get it wetter/I’m guaranteed to never swiss cheese for more cheddar.”
19. OutKast – “The Whole World”
Mike came back to kill it one more time on one of three new songs from OutKast’s greatest hits album.
Best line: “I catch a beat runnin’ like Randy Moss/Ride that bitch off like a brand new horse.”
18. OutKast – “Land Of A Million Drums”
This is the last OutKast song, we promise. The group made the big single from the 2002 live action Scooby-Doo movie, but it was Mike who got to rap about smoking and snacking with Shaggy and Scoob.
Best line: “Shaggy wake up, we’ve been had/Our Scooby snacks they got the whole stash/He said, who who, I don’t have a clue/I suspect the thirteen ghosts of Scoobie Doo/Call Vincent Price up on the Nextel/Tell him to send another package right through the mail.”
17. Bone Crusher – Never Scared
A Tribe Called Quest lyrics repurposed as a description for a .45 shouldn’t work this well, but…
Best line: “I got a hot 4 fever; call that bitch Bonita/Knock the apple off any bum with a hollow heat seeker.”
16. Trina – “Look Back At Me”
Easily one of the hottest back-and-forths in rap history.
Best line: “I’m feeling like Akinyele put it in your mouth/Kanye tell them gold digging hoes that we pimping in the South/And it ain’t payday unless nuts in your mouth.”
15. XV – “May The Force Be With You”
Mike painting a vivid picture with Bone Thugs and Star Wars.
Best line: “All the month with a blunt in my mouth as I cook the brick and Decatur/Goddamn I dropped the ash on my English Lit paper/I sky walk through these books but my mind just goes Darth Vader/I did whatever to get me some Yoda green paper.”
14. T.I. – “That’s What I Thought”
Mike and T.I.’s chemistry is always top notch and this snowball of a track is no exception.
Best line: “Now they call the governor, the mayor and the chief of the police/Tell ’em homicide is high ridin, I’m back on they street/Then, call the traffic gangstas and the suckers talkin lip/Tell ’em bang bang bang if a nigga speak on TIP.”
13. Lushlife & CSLSX – “This Ecstatic Cult”
Lushlife exists at the intersection of hip-hop and rock, and Mike is more than happy to meet them in the middle.
Best line: “Motherfucker, you ain’t never shit, and never was a/Probably kinda nigga that’d snitch on Harriet Tubman/So keep your business to yourself, and keep it undercover/One time, I’ll holler brothers.”
12. Big Boi – “Thom Pettie”
Mike & Big Boi’s relationship has been through severe peaks and valleys over the years, but it’s good knowing they can still push each other to the lyrical edge.
Best line: “In the rear seat is a fat black nigga with a smile like Denzel/Pretty model bitch with me moving bout as graceful as a gazelle.”
11. Young Gliss – “No One Can Stop Us Now”
The thought of Mike, Prodigy, & Jon Connor on one song is enough to work on paper.
Best line: “Cause I’ma pop your partner top like he a Kennedy/JFK or Bobby, either way, his ass a memory.”
10. Glasses Malone – “Thuggin'”
Why you would have both Mike *and* Kendrick Lamar on your track one after the other is beyond me. Mike brings it to the throat of the TV news in his crazy verse.
Best line: “I’m part drug kingpin mixed with Booker T/I’m whatever Blacks need me to be.”
9. Talib Kweli – “Tryn’ To Breathe”
Two people’s champions coming together on one song is bound to lead to enlightenment.
Best line: “Baby’s locked in cages, mamas look twice they ages/Starvation’s too much to stomach, this must be Reaganomics.”
8. MNDR – “Lock & Load”
Mike dropping some gospel about tarot on a grimy and gritty video game soundtrack is godlike.
Best line: “Shit’s fucked up said the cards of the tarot/They ain’t know my DNA match with the pharaoh/I exact revenge at the end of a barrel/Eyes on the prize, it’s the young black sparrow
7. PRhyme – “Underground Kings”
Mike hops in on the backend of a three MC tag team with Royce 5’9″ and ScHoolboy Q and holds his own like no other. Can we get Mike x DJ Premier to work together more?
Best line: “Before I go, rest in peace to Dilla fo’ sho/Slum lord with a mic cord in a slum village on a slum tour/Through every ghetto I carry the heavy metal/Just in case a shovel is needed when arguments are settled.”
6. Chamillionaire – “Reign Fall”
Even at his most vulnerable, Mike knows how to mix grit and heart together to wrap barbed wire around your heartstrings.
Best line: “A nigga judge gave a young nigga 10 years/My baby mama cried 10 x 100 tears/100 nights in the cell I’ve cried too/My mama died last year, I kinda wish I died too.”
5. DJ EFN – “If U Run”
Another all-star tag team with Mike going toe-to-toe with Kxng Crooked and Webbz.
Best line: “And that is a fact, stuntin’ like you Hollywood Africans/That walk around, don’t know how to act
Don’t know how to act/Jean Michel Basquiat, you are not/Just a bitin’ nigga that went pop, that went pop.”
4. Joie 13 – “IBM”
Mike even manages to bring out the political side of a banger beat!
Best line: “I wear the crown with feathers in it/I’m Malcolm X, transition channeled/I brand a league, my legal visions/There’s big energy, get the people in prison/Or maybe not, depending the plot.”
3. Freeway & The Jacka – “Sunnah Boys”
Mike joins Freeway & The Jacka in Muslim brotherhood for 16 bars.
Best line: “I’m saying Assalamu Alaikum as I’m twisting up a Vega/As I’m dipping up the block tellin’ the Ahks I’ll see ’em later/Walaikum Assalam is how the bro respond/We grippin’ each others palm and wishing peace upon.”
2. When Saints Go Machine – “Love And Respect”
Mike linked with this Danish electronic group and dropped some crazy bars.
Best line: “Feeling like I’m Garvey, man I’m talking X-men/Party, I’m currently locked in a tour van/Smoking on some head bang, listening to Saigon/Bamboo, X-clan, Brand Nu, Grand Pu/Ice Cube, PE, Dead Prez, Rp Jimmy”
1. Jay-Z – “Poppin Tags”
Okay, we lied. “Land Of A Million Drums” isn’t the last OutKast song on this list. CHANGE. ANDRED 3000 isn’t on this. It was Twista. The Dungeon Family linked with Jay Z for this Blueprint 2 cut, which you can apparently only hear on Tidal. Listen to it here.
Best line: “More G’s on me, than a late 80’s Gucci leather/Worn by the great Rakim himself/Stitch my Dapper Dan, oh man with the gun in hand/I leave your blood squirting, no offense/I’ll put your face on the chest”