Rapper Killer Mike to lecture on race at MIT

Killer Mike of Run The Jewels will speak on race at MIT.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Killer Mike is going from the Coachella stage to the lecture hall.

After turning in two excellent weekend performances in Indio with his duo Run the Jewels (alongside collaborator El-P), the outspoken rapper will elaborate on his work’s many deeply felt depictions of American race relations in a talk at MIT.

The lecture, on April 24, is part of MIT’s Hip-Hop Speaker Series and is simply titled “Race Relations in the U.S.” The series had previously hosted a much more lighthearted talk with the profilific Lil’ B - also a Coachella performer this year - and Jay Z collaborator Young Guru.

The Times’ Lorraine Ali wrote that Run the Jewels’ first-week Coachella set was one the the week’s finest: “Run the Jewels’ success story came to full fruition Saturday night on the Empire Polo Grounds when the rap duo -- both of whom turn 40 this year and both receiving relatively minimal underground success over their decades-long careers before officially joining forces -- amassed one of the most devoted, grateful and supportive crowds of the evening.”


Killer Mike has given a similar lecture at NYU and has been a frequent commentator in mainstream media as focus turned to a spate of killings of young black men by white police officers. Other rappers have noticed too: Kendrick Lamar name-checked Killer Mike on his single “Hood Politics”: “Critics want to mention that they miss when hip hop was rappin’/ ... [I]f you did, then Killer Mike’d be platinum.”

In a searing Billboard op-ed, Mike wrote that “I have no hope-filled insight to deliver. I only have this warning to all Americans: Whatever this country is willing to do to the least of us, it will one day do to us all.”

“My rights are precious, and I value those provided to me through the United States Constitution so much. I will never take a day off policing the people we pay and keep a public trust with. I will use my camera, my pen, my pad and my network to do my part, to make sure that American will no longer fear their government. or its employees. They work for us -- not the other way around.”

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