What on earth is an op-ed? I was confused so I looked it up. Wikipedia told me that it originally was short for "opposite the editorial page", but lately has come to mean "opinion editorial". And that's fine. I'm just glad I know now. Thank goodness.

Anyway, Killer Mike has co-written an op-ed piece with Erik Nielson, Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Richmond. It's called Poetic (In)justice and is primarily about Elonis v. U.S., a case which went to the Supreme Court recently, but which stems from 2010 when 27-year-old was charged with "communicating threats" on Facebook and subsequently sentenced to 44 months in prison, despite these being quite clearly rap-inspired verses, and accompanying these posts with statements like, "Art is about pushing limits."

Nielson and Killer Mike's piece in USA Today yesterday warns about immediately associating rap lyrics with autobiographical violence. Here's some snippets.

No other fictional form — musical, literary or cinematic — is used this way in the courts, a concerning double standard that research suggests is rooted, at least in part, in stereotypes about the people of color primarily associated with rap music, as well as the misconception that hip-hop and the artists behind it are dangerous.

In fact, the history of hip-hop tells a very different story. In its formative years, for example, it was explicitly conceived by many as an alternative to the violent gang culture that consumed cities like New York. Since then, it has offered countless young men and women opportunities to escape the poverty and violence in America's urban centers. As rapper Ice T once put it, "If I hadn't had a chance to rap, I'd either be dead or in jail."

It is true that hip-hop has been scarred by violence. Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., for example, two of rap's most important and influential artists, were killed in the prime of their careers. But for each instance of violence, there are countless examples of lives saved or made stronger. Trust us on this: The kids spending hours per day writing rap songs aren't a threat to society; they are often trying to escape the threats from society.

You can read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, Killer Mike recently gave his outspoken opinion regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, first onstage – the day his death was ruled as essentially lawful – and later to CNN. You can watch some of that below (two videos).

You should go check out another op-ed he wrote for Billboard about the militarisation of the police in light of Michael Brown's death.