Thursday morning’s (January 31) Breakfast Club sit-down with one of hip-hop activism’s loudest voices Killer Mike quickly turned into a showdown on the world’s most dangerous morning show between the Atlanta rapper and DJ Envy.
The debate kicked off on the topic of private school education versus public school education, in which Envy advocates for the former. The Queens-native shared his story of attending St. Francis Preparatory School in the higher-class Fresh Meadows neighborhood of Queens instead of the Andrew Jackson public high school that his own hood’s zoning would have placed him in. Envy boasted that not only was the education at St. Francis far better, but also afforded him a shiny addition on applications and an advantage over other students—irrespective of race or class. For his children, he continued, he also places them in private schools for that reason.
However, the Run the Jewels rapper rebutted that experiences and opportunities for kids are totally different when your parents are rich and you grow up in the minority around white children. “N**ga, you rich!” Mike said. “And you can’t take that away. And my question becomes this: with all that great education you got, you turned out to be a DJ and a real estate investor. You didn’t have to go to college.” He made it clear that he wasn’t dissing DJs, but the overreaching point is that opportunity is defined by pursuits—not private school attendance. Mike has seen it for himself, explaining how it seems that Black people place their children in privileged, private schools for bragging rights more than anything. According to him, they don’t realize their children are consequentially granted a systematic education instead of one that teaches them about their own personhood, their own culture, and ultimately, the real world. It raises the question for Mike of why Blacks aren’t starting their own schools or supporting existing ones named after the greats of Black history.
“I don’t have no problem with you loving your children,” he said, “but my children go to public school because I pay taxes for public schools! And they’re named for Black people! And either you’re going to choose to be excellent and you’re going to do better, or you’re going to sit your chump a** down and you going to keep being the same sh** over and over!”
Mike also pointed out the hypocrisy of expecting Black students to rise to excellence at private schools, but the lack of that expectation at their public school. “If you walk in a school named for Frederick Douglass High School and you do not have the initiative as the parent or the student to walk up and step up to that greatness—but you would do it at St. Pius [private school]?” he questioned. “You’d do it at St. Michael? Man, you a chump!”
Mike quickly clarified that he wasn't calling Envy a chump. But once he realized Envy’s already charged up with a clapback, responded with, “I’m not talking about you! You light-skinned don’t get in your feelings, but I’m not talking about you!” From there, things reach a bit of a boiling point as Envy continued his argument, holding that public school teachers don’t receive the same salaries or tools as private school teachers. Envy believes they’re overworked and underpaid and, thus, some of the “worst teachers in the country” because they won’t give the same effort and dedication to teaching. A few “you’re full of shit!” outbursts and heated back-and-forths later, and the tension rose to such extreme levels that the Breakfast Club pulled out the trusty old “Beige Rage” meter too, measuring just how intense Envy’s temperament was becoming.
And the whole internet—both private and public users—tuned in with a hot bag of popcorn for it all.
See their reactions to the Killer Mike versus DJ Envy (alternatively, the private school versus public school) debate on this morning’s Breakfast Club and see the clash unfold for yourself in the video below.