Sckraight From The Ghetto: You Know Youre Ghetto If . . .

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Or maybe that time you saw the young black man on the corner when you were stopped at a red light and you quietly hit the power door locks, just in case?

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But allow me to present you with a new piece of information. Killer Mike wrote only one of those lyrics. The second one comes from a song by a white Kentucky songwriter named Chris Knight. We believe automatically that Chris Knight is not — could never actually be — that homeless man with a gun. You do not assume instantly that Mike is merely inhabiting a character. No, in your mind, he is the man with the gun in his hand.

Think for a second about the history of Southern music. Southerners have written and still sing hundreds of ballads about killings.

Too $hort - Money in the Ghetto Lyrics & traduction

We sing them at festivals and around campfires. Academic musicologists study them as cultural artifacts. Though they are dark indeed, no one finds them too objectionable. We just love Johnny more. But when the gun in the song is in the hand of a black man, things get weird. The song becomes less cultural artifact and more an object of fear.


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We reflexively object. We worry about what the children will hear. We sat in the back room, and I walked him through my little lyric comparison. I told him about the double-standard problem I saw and how it disturbed me.

Too $hort - Money in the Ghetto Lyrics & Traduction

I asked him what he thought about this. We all talk with these drawls and twangs. We all go to the race track on Sunday. We all go fishing. They did the same shit. I fiercely identify with being a Southerner because I value that culture. So why not just be who I am? I am Southern. I rap. I wear cheesy jewelry. I bounce around on stage. But when I take that shit off and go home, I fish. I do the same things you do. This is the story of Michael Render, father of four, husband, entrepreneur, proud Southerner, genius rapper — and a man who makes it his business, every day, not to shut himself off from other human beings.

Killer Mike in his barbershop, at left, and, at right, at home with with his daughters, Michael, 7, and Aniyah, Although I knew for a long time that there was a rapper from Atlanta named Killer Mike, I had never paid attention to his music, even after I discovered that Mike and I had a mutual friend. So I listened.

Lessons From The Ghetto: Willingness To Fight

Well, now. What to make of this? An Outkast protege who had ridden the wave of success that had folks declaring Atlanta the hip-hop capital of the world, and here he was, looking squarely back at members of his own community and challenging them to apply the fruits of their fame to things that matter more than balling, cars and cribs. I found myself wanting to meet this man, to talk to him, to try and find out what he was made of.

He tours incessantly. Our mutual friend, Susanne Pesterfield, began trying to set up a lunch date last summer before we launched The Bitter Southerner but was still trying to nail it down in early August when we actually launched. She thought he might like the idea, she told me. The next day, Susanne called me. Hell, yeah!


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  7. Hundreds of country shows, too. I can say, however, that one of them changed my life forever. Public Enemy were the first hip-hop act that combined the revolutionary sonic force of hip-hop with the lyrical insistence, anger and bluntness of the punk rock David and I loved as college students in Athens.

    As I recall it, we were the only two white people there. But this night had something extra. We had ours , and hip-hop was theirs , but Dave and I never once felt like intruders. We were willing to listen, so we were welcomed.

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    Ever after, I found that I would call bullshit on myself every time I thought about what was ours and what was theirs. The plague known as crack cocaine was falling hard on downtrodden communities all over America, and Adamsville was no exception. Seeing Killer Mike perform live for the first time, 22 years later, was a very different experience.

    Two reasons. The first was the crowd itself. If it takes all kinds, then we had what it took that night. There was one of everybody, every color, every possible permutation of the multiracial South. The second reason was that I had never seen a hip-hop artist engage with a crowd so directly as Killer Mike. Rap music is my religion. I realized I was witnessing a truly and thoroughly modern expression of Southern culture.

    It spoke to the urgency of the social problems we face, but it did so with tremendous optimism. It celebrated our musical roots and our gleeful propensity to mix the sacred with the profane. And leading it all was this giant smiling man named Killer, unafraid to rhyme about his beautiful ebony skin and the words he puts in the wind, giving our people what they needed: the opposite of bullshit.

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    His grandparents were members of Mt. Drive, just outside of Adamsville. But the Baptists were a little too uptight for Mrs. There was more wailing, too, because a lot of the older hymns were still there.

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    It was like what you would would have gotten out of the fields, where you just sang to get through the day. There were a lot of testimonials. It was an interesting place.

    The music was different there. The focus was very different there.