Coronavirus: Rapper Killer Mike launches campaign urging people to take virus seriously

Killer Mike warns Georgia residents to take coronavirus seriously

ATLANTA — Stay home if you can. Mask up if you can’t.”

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That’s the message targeted to young African Americans in DeKalb County, Georgia. The messenger: Killer Mike, Atlanta’s famed rap artist and activist who teamed up with another Mike, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond.

“I just don’t want to see people who look like me die unnecessarily because of cabin fever," Killer Mike told WSB-TV's Sophia Choi.

After seeing videos of young people gathering in large groups to preform doughnuts on highways or hang out at clubs while not practicing social distancing or wearing masks, Thurmond launched an ad campaign aimed at stopping the potential spread of COVID-19.

The campaign will target young African Americans on the radio, in print ads and on billboards.

“What’s up? It’s Killer Mike, but the real killer is COVID-19, and it’s still out here,” states one radio ad.

Thurmond said he hopes the messages strike a chord, coming from a rapper.

“We totally missed the boat in Georgia," Thurman said. "That’s one of things that I think is hurting our response. We’ve not tailored messages or recruited messengers that speak directly to populations that’s most impacted.”

Thurmond said many black families live in multigenerational homes. He told Choi that he worries asymptomatic young people could bring the virus home to more vulnerable members of their family.

Killer Mike added: “20-, 30-, 40-year-old adults, taking care of yourself is the highest priority. But not only just because of you; it’s because you’re going to expose yourself to people you love.”

The county plans to spend about $200,000 for the campaigns, which will last until the end of the year.

In future months, the county will target other demographics, such as Hispanics and Asians.

Thurmond told Choi he is still looking for the “right messenger” for those communities, but he thinks a soccer star may play well in Hispanic ads.

But for each community, the message will be the same: Take precautions, as Killer Mike stresses in his ad.

“Don’t worry about the bigwigs in Washington and what they say. Let’s follow our local CEO. Let’s stay out of them streets. Take it from Mike and Mike. Stay home if you can. Mask up, if you can’t.”

Rapper Killer Mike attends the REVOLT & AT&T Summit on Oct. 25, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Rapper Killer Mike attends the REVOLT & AT&T Summit on Oct. 25, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)