In late November, rapper Killer Mike of Run the Jewels gave Bernie Sanders a firey introduction before an Atlanta rally, telling the crowd, “I am here as a proponent for a political revolution.” On Tuesday, he released a six-part, highly watchable interview with Sanders, conducted after that rally in his barbershop, the SWAG Shop.
Sanders has had a difficult time, relative to Hillary Clinton, connecting with black voters; it’s most of what he’s been trying to do this week in Iowa. Some of the Killer Mike interviewed centered around Sanders’ activism history with civil rights.
“You organized with SNCC,” Mike said admiringly, referring to the Student Nonviolent Organizing Committee, one of the biggest civil rights groups in the ‘60s South, and the one that led lunch counter sit-ins and Freedom Rides protesting bus segregation. “On some rap language, that’s some bomb shit.”
“This is what we felt. We were in the north,” Sanders replied briskly. “We were in Chicago. I was a student at the University of Chicago. What we saw, if I can use some bomb shit, is we saw our friends getting the shit kicked out of them. Getting beaten to hell. So we tried to get some money. They were the brave ones. Not us. We just got some money there.”
Mike and Sanders broadly agreed on marijuana legalization and economic rights; they also, as the Daily Beast pointed out, sparred politely and substantively over the right to own assault weapons.
It’s a pretty extraodinary interview, one that helped nudge Sanders away from some of his broader and more rote talking points and into specifics. Killer Mike closed by promising to make Sanders the “honorary white guy” whose portrait hangs on the wall in his barbershop: “It’s gonna be like Martin, Malcom, Bernie.” Sanders beamed with what looked like genuine delight.
Watch the full interview below.