Killer Mike on why he’s supporting Vincent Fort for Atlanta mayor

We spoke with with the rapper and activist yesterday
Killer Mike Vincent Fort
Killer Mike in South Carolina last yaer

Photograph by Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Southern hip-hop legend Big Boi told us this summer that he thinks Killer Mike should run for mayor. Well, he might! “I’m a rapper,” Killer Mike, also known as Michael Render, says. “People know I love marijuana and nightlife. My wife and I go to the strip clubs, you know, so if they’ll forgive me that, maybe in 20 years I’ll run for mayor.”

Until then, “I like that pay that we get for singing and dancing!” Render will support Vincent Fort in this year’s mayoral race. This is what he told us on the phone yesterday while out on the road for his Run the World Tour:

Atlanta should stay an African American city not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of influence. The South is a better region when power is shared, as it has been. Maynard Jackson and John Wesley Dobbs understood that any community that pulls itself apart on racial lines is not going to become a city that can dominate internationally.

African American leadership has worked here exceptionally well. And the type of African American leadership we need is the kind we’ll get with Vincent Fort. I’m behind that guy all the way. If you supported Bernie Sanders for president, and hold true to those ideals . . . the only candidate I see those principles in is Fort.

Atlanta is one of richest black cities in America, but it’s also home to one of biggest wealth disparities. And America is the same way; it’s a rich country, but there’s also a huge wealth disparity. So Atlanta is successful like America: The top tier is doing well, but the working class, the African American community, people that are new here including immigrants and those who have come here from other states—they need someone who is going to help fortify those principles that they value. They want a productive way of growth that profits them, too, so that they’re not just servants, essentially, who bus into the city to work and then bus out.

Any time this city loses sight of the working class, we have gentrification like in Cabbagetown. There used to be racial harmony—not like in a Pepsi commercial, but real harmony that led to lasting friendships—and that now is eviscerated. Everyone got wiped out of that neighborhood. I don’t want to see another Cabbagetown happen.

It was great that city council decided to decriminalize marijuana, to give officers the chance to use their own discretion to say, “I’m not going to charge this 18 year-old.” They can give them a stern talking to, or a $75 fine, and move on. I appreciate [city council member and mayoral candidate] Kwanzaa [Hall] for that, and I appreciate Fort for making that his first big campaign issue. I’m encouraged by Fort because I want a progressive at the helm for the next eight years, and he is the only progressive I see.

Some of the other candidates who are running for mayor—and some of them are friends of mine—if they don’t win, I hope that they will go back to city council. I think that, from the bottom up, Atlanta is a powerful city not only because it has had African American leadership but African American leadership that came directly out of the working class.