Atlanta based rapper Killer Mike (half of Run the Jewels) spent several hours in his home city with presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, and gave a short speech introducing the Senator at his campaign rally.
Musicians endorsing politicians is nothing new, and the 2008 presidential election certainly had some inspiring introductions for Barack Obama. But I don't know if I've ever had a speech introducing a politician, nor any speech by a candidate or president, effect me like this one. Killer Mike is about as far as anyone from the polished, rehearsed image we expect to see in American politics, so for him to give such an impassioned, heartfelt speech supporting Bernie is groundbreaking.
I'm sure many will contest my point of the importance of this speech, in comparison to some of Obama's speeches, particularly the 2004 DNC speech that put him on the path to the presidency. While Obama's many speeches, and his candidacy/presidency have marked a historic shift in terms of racial justice in America, in broader terms of American politics and society, I believe that Killer Mike's speech may be more significant. In the age of mass political disillusionment, there is only so much significance that any speech by any politician can have. Americans do not believe in our government, or the politicians who run it, or seek to run it.
Hip-Hop has historically been a force for racial and social justice operating entirely outside the bounds of politics, so to have a powerful voice from hip-hop lend his support to a candidate like Bernie is a paradigm shift. And Killer Mike's speech isn't powerful simply for who it is coming from - his words cut to the truth of matters that millions of Americans live every day. His speech is not a shallow celebrity endorsement, it's a message of power and hope from the heart of a man who clearly has a deep understanding of the issues. Too many Americans have lost hope that their concerns will be addressed through the political process, so we need inspired voices from outside the political machine to reignite our faith in our democracy. Killer Mike's speech is just that.
El-P, Mike's partner in Run the Jewels summed this up neatly in his tweet following the Atlanta rally:
Check out the video of Killer Mike's introduction for Bernie below: