Published Oct 31, 2014Killer Mike has turned not one but two of his passions into profit, and both are ready to spread their reach. As the Atlanta MC currently tours behind the newly released RTJ2, his second collaboration with producer/rapper El-P as Run the Jewels, his barbershop business is on the verge of expansion.
Graffitis SWAG Shop, which operates minutes from Atlanta's airport, will expand to a second location, Mike reveals to Exclaim!, as soon he secures one of several locations he's bidding on. And in the next two or three years, he expects five to 10 of his "Shave, wash and groom" shops to be in operation, as well as a line of grooming products.
"It's successful enough that my wife doesn't let me touch any of the money," says the 39-year-old rapper, born Michael Render. "It's growing. The little train is chugging along. I'm very proud of it."
The barbershop isn't just a moneymaking endeavour for Killer Mike, however. He calls it a passion project in response to changing society.
"We're not days of Mad Men or even early hip-hop," Mike explains. "There's only one place left for guys to have a social centre or club, especially working-class guys — and it's the barbershop."
Although Graffitis counts Outkast's Big Boi, T.I. and the Wu-Tang Clan's GZA as customers, most of the clientele, Mike says, can't afford a country club membership. He provides a place where men can hang out and not worry about the pressures of being a dad or husband. Plus it allows Mike to give back by providing employment to those in the community.
Because Mike claims to be providing a better product and service than the competition, he has seen interest in the business escalate quicker than expected when he opened in November 2011. "Now the passion is ignited," he says. "I'm thinking, 'How big can I grow this business before it gets so big I can't grow it anymore?'"
RTJ2 is out now via Mass Appeal Records, while its cat-assisted sister album Meow the Jewels is still on the way. You can see all Run the Jewels' upcoming tour dates below.
10/31 Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts *
11/01 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club *
11/02 Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theater *
11/03 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle *
11/04 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade *
11/06 Dallas, TX - Trees *
11/07 Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/08 Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's *
11/10 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom *
11/11 La Jolla, CA - Porters Pub *
11/12 Pomona, CA - Glass House *
11/14 San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine ~
11/15 Portland, OR - Hawthorne Theater *
11/17 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge *
11/18 Englewood, CO - Gothic Theatre *
11/20 Minneapolis, MN - First Line Music Café *
11/21 Madison, WI - Majestic Theatre *
11/22 Chicago, IL - Metro *
11/25 Detroit, MI - St Andrews Hall *
11/26 Toronto, ON - Danforth Music Hall *
11/27 Montreal, QC - Club Soda *
11/28 Boston, MA - Paradise *
11/29 New York, NY - Stage 48 *
12/30 Lorne, Australia - Falls Festival
12/31 Marion Bay, Australia - Falls Festival
01/01 Sydney, Australia - Field Day
01/02 Byron Bay, Australia - Falls Festival
01/04 Busselton, Australia - Southbound Festival
01/07 Sydney, Australia - Enmore Theatre ^
01/08 Melbourne, Australia - The Forum ^
01/09 Brisbane, Australia - Hi Fi ^
01/10 Auckland, NZ - Town Hall ^
* with Ratking & Despot
~ with Despot
^ with Joey Bada$$