Trigger Warning with Killer Mike season 1 premiere recap: Living Black


Episode 1 of Trigger Warning with Killer Mike finds Mike trying to buy “totally black” for three days in Athens, Georgia. Can he do it?

[Note: Because Trigger Warning with Killer Mike is implied to be controversial, I will conveniently rate each Netflix episode’s level of controversy at the end.]

As one might guess, Trigger Warning with Killer Mike stars Killer Mike (real name Michael Render), a Grammy-winning rapper, activist and business owner. The basic premise of the show is to examine issues involving the black community.

For his first episode, Mike is interested in seeing whether or not he can live exclusively off of black-owned businesses and products for three days. In the process, we get to learn about some specific businesses. He argues that, while segregation was bad, it kept more money in the black neighborhoods.

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So, basically, this is an experiment to see how well he can “live black” in today’s America. It’s a bit tough, as he’ll need to research every bit of food, shelter, transportation and entertainment he engages with.

According to Killer Mike, he can’t smoke pot because he can’t find any grown by black people. He apparently also has to walk or bike because his own cars are white-owned companies. He consults Shareef Abdul Malik, founder, about his predicament.

For cellphone usage, Mike learns about the “Figger phone,” from Figgers Communication (whose founder, Freddie Figgers, is black). Then Mike gets a bike from Shawn Deangelo Walton, CEO and founder of WeCycle Atlanta, where kids do community service in exchange for bikes.

Perhaps the most controversial moment is when Mike attends the Blue Flame strip club, where he tells an Asian-American dancer that he can’t accept her offer of a lap dance because he’s only supporting black business for three days.

Obviously, this segment might not go over so well, but it is in line with the experiment. Basically, if you can do fine with this moment, you’ll find the rest of the episode pretty uncontroversial.

Good and Travel

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike then tackles the issue of black-owned food businesses, after Mike finds his kitchen is a “black food desert.” Here he consults Abdul Sharrieff Muhammad, owner of Your Supermarket. At least some of their food comes from the Nation of Islam farms. The two also discuss the reality that, contrary to certain beliefs, white people are welcome to shop there and buy their products.

Regarding transportation, Mike has to locate a black-owned bus company. He also laments that he lacks a black-made can opener to eat his beans. Also, because he struggles to find a black-owned hotel in Athens, Georgia, he sleeps on a park bench (he argues it’s public, so it’s funded at least partly by black people).

Later on, Mike heads to the Dawg Gone Good BBQ where he meets El-P, the other half of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels. Much to his chagrin, Mike learns the meat on his plate’s not from a black-owned farm. El-P admits that it’s the best barbecue he’s ever had, which makes Killer Mike jealous. After having already purchased the food, Mike implies that he’ll freeze it until after his experiment is up.

A haircut and an awkward interview

The next stop is Wilson’s Styling Shop, owned by Mack Wilson. While there, Mike gets nostalgic remembering a little green book that would tell motorists where black businesses are. Obviously, an experiment like this could eventually make someone nuts.

The awkwardness reaches a new height when, during an interview with Joe Silva (host of Just Off the Radar), Silva is told he must speak indirectly to Mike through El-P. Apparently, a radio interview is considered promotional and therefore business-related, so this is necessary to complete Mike’s experiment.

Soon after that, we see a black farm called Broad Street. Specifically, it’s the West Broad Farmers Market, coordinated by Christina Hylton. Then, even though he had some success in finding black businesses, Mike uses the experiment as an opportunity to end racism.

In his words, “living black was way more difficult than it should be,” and he urges viewers to “support black-owned businesses at least one day a week.”

Controversy rating: 3.6 / 10

I decided to rank this higher than I might have otherwise, simply because of the scene at the strip club. It’s far from the rudest moment ever depicted on camera, but could easily be taken the wrong way.

Being a cynic, it also seems like it might have been tailor-made for the trailer. Still, this episode was less potentially offensive than one might have expected (especially with a show name like Trigger Warning).

In fact, it operated as a pretty modest overview of some black-owned businesses, especially in and around Athens, Georgia. The idea of spending money on one’s own community is also relatively inoffensive, as plenty of people already try to do that regardless of background.

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Also, Killer Mike seems like a nice guy, which doesn’t beef up one’s shock value. Sure, some people may be offended by this episode, but someone somewhere is always offended by something.

That’s it for this recap of Trigger Warning with Killer Mike! What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!