When Bernie Sanders held a rally in Atlanta last month for his presidential campaign, the senator from Vermont was introduced by local rapper Killer Mike. Prior to the rally, Sanders and Killer Mike sat down to record an interview, which was released in six parts on Tuesday. “I rap about a lot of the stuff you rant about,” Killer Mike says at the start, before delving into a broad conversation about economics, criminal justice, gun control, and everything in between.
Killer Mike (born Michael Render) is half of the MC duo Run the Jewels, and has long laced his lyrics with messages about politics, activism, and social justice. His emergence as a popular political figure dates back to an onstage speech at a concert in St. Louis the night a grand jury decided to not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown. Run the Jewels released a powerful music video tackling police violence earlier this year. Killer Mike is now the sort of artist who prompts print magazine profiles about how he’s reviving hip-hop as a political platform.
His interview with Sanders, conducted just before Thanksgiving at an Atlanta barbershop owned by Killer Mike, is not an objective examination of the candidate: Killer Mike gushes over Sanders, whom he had already endorsed earlier this summer. “That’s some bomb shit,” Killer Mike says by way of asking Sanders about his civil rights activism with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s.
“What we saw—if I can use some bomb shit—is our friends getting the shit kicked out of them and getting beaten to hell,” Sanders replies, explaining why he got involved while he was a student at the University of Chicago.
Sanders appears to be enjoying himself throughout most of the chat, awkwardly reaching over for fist bumps throughout the interview. He nods along while Killer Mike calls Donald Trump a fascist and compares him to Hitler and Mussolini. “You’re right, it is scary,” Sanders says of Trump’s campaign. When the two turn to marijuana decriminalization—”I’m a marijuana smoker and I think that’s absolute bullshit,” Mike says of the federal prohibition—Sanders backs him up. “Of course it’s crazy; everybody knows it’s crazy,” Sanders says.
Watch the six-part interview—in sections labeled “Economic Freedom,” “Social Justice,” “Rigged Economy,” “Free Health Care: It Ain’t a Big Deal,” “This Country Was Started As An Act Of Political Protest,” and “Democrats Win When People Vote”—below: