Killer Mike turned 40 on April 20th — a noteworthy date for the man who once proclaimed he “smells like YSL and marijuana” — and, as a treat to fans, dropped a new video for “Ric Flair,” a cut off the rapper’s 2011 solo album Pl3dge.
Despite the lengthy gap between the song’s release and the video, “Ric Flair” still sounds fresh, with Killer Mike spitting over boom-bap drums and wailing church organs. The simple video finds Mike walking through the streets of Los Angeles, rhyming and stealing, as classic clips of the titular, blustering wrestler are projected onto the city’s buildings.
“Ric Flair” and Pl3dge mark Killer Mike’s last project’s before embarking on a string of successful and critically lauded collaborations with New York underground hip-hop hero, El-P. The pair were introduced by Adult Swim’s Jason DeMarco, and El-P would produce all of Mike’s 2012 effort, R.A.P. Music. The following year, they debuted their collaborative project, Run the Jewels.
The duo went on to drop two albums in as many years, with their latest, 2014’s Run the Jewels 2, landing near the top of many year-end lists (including our own). RTJ has been a remarkable late-career boon for both El-P and Mike, the latter of whom spent much of the 2000s languishing as his critically adored albums failed to live up to major label expectations.
“Walking out of an interview the other day, 17-year-old kid turns around from his parents and throws up the gun and the fist,” Mike told Rolling Stone, referencing the gesture emblazoned on the covers of both Run the Jewels records. “It’s real! I tell myself every day like, I’m trippin’. You’re thirty-something years old having your blow-up moment!”