Rapper and social activist Killer Mike is the first-ever recipient of Billboard’s Change Maker Award.
The prize has been created to honour an artist or group that “speaks truth to power through their music, celebrity and community,” according to a statement from officials at Dick Clark Productions and NBC which will host the upcoming Billboard Music Awards.
“They are socially conscious, politically aware, active in their community and charitable with time, money and/or influence to improve the lives of others,” a press release reads.
“Killer Mike’s dedication to equality, social justice and financial literacy in the Black community has catapulted him as a headlining figure of social responsibility and activism, as demonstrated in the wake of the slayings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks,” it went on.
Mike, real name Michael Santiago Render, who is one half of the hip hop duo Run the Jewels, is active in campaigning for social justice and equality, including leading voter registration initiatives and helping to create entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for the black community.
“This award highlights and recognizes the attributes of a true social justice warrior in the field of music who has made exemplary strides to lead the community in positive changemaking advocacy,” Datwon Thomas, vice president, cultural media at Vibe/MRC Media and consulting producer for the Billboard Music Awards, said in a statement.
“We selected Killer Mike for his contributions to the current movement and culture and his tangible efforts to make national and grassroots change,” he praised.
The award will be presented by Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms at the APEX (African American Panoramic Experience) Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.
The 2020 Billboard Music Awards will be hosted by Kelly Clarkson and broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday.