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Atlanta Names A 400-Foot Drill After Rapper Killer Mike

Killer Mike joined the event at the bottom of Bellwood Quarry, where a custom-built boring machine was named in his honor.
Killer Mike joined the event at the bottom of Bellwood Quarry, where a custom-built boring machine was named in his honor.
Credit Molly Samuel / WABE

The city of Atlanta is honoring rapper Killer Mike by naming a giant piece of machinery after him. A 400-foot, custom-built boring machine that will dig a key piece of Atlanta’s water infrastructure will now be known as Driller Mike. The name was unveiled at a ceremony.

Killer Mike’s first reaction when he heard that the machine might be named in his honor, was, he said with a laugh, “Bull****.”

“I thought it was a joke,” he said. “I literally thought it was just a joke I saw on Twitter.”

As the reality dawned on him, he said he was flattered.

“Like I’m from here, you know I’m a kid that’s from Atlanta. So I’m just overwhelmed.”

Killer Mike, a member of the Atlanta hip-hop collective the Dungeon Family and half of the group Run the Jewels, said when he tells people he knows through the world of rap about this strange honor, he usually starts by telling them they’re not going to believe it.

“People from that world don’t understand how a rapper and a mayor listen to the same Dungeon Family music,” he said. “Well, that makes Atlanta unique.”

Killer Mike, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, city councilmembers and other officials gathered for the naming ceremony at the bottom of Bellwood Quarry, a former granite quarry that the city is transforming into a reservoir. The gigantic drill lay behind the crowd, ready to start its 5-mile trip connecting the quarry to a water treatment plant and the Chattahoochee River.

The brain behind the name Driller Mike is Bryan Schroeder, senior director of development and marketing with the Georgia Conservancy.

“My mama always said, ‘Bryan, one day, you will have the opportunity to name a $5 million drill after your favorite rapper. So choose carefully,’” Schroeder told the crowd. (Though the drill actually costs more than $11 million, according to the city.)

“I know, you know, it’s partly satirical and a joke,” said Killer Mike. “But I really really am honored, to be honored in any way by my city as a hip-hop artist, because I know it’s hard to honor sometimes, because we have potty mouths.”

The reservoir will hold a 30-day backup water supply for Atlanta that could be used in case the usual supply is ever disrupted.

“I don’t ever want to cry for Atlanta like I’ve cried for places like Flint,” Killer Mike told the gathering. “Water is a right. Clean water is a right.”

The reservoir will eventually hold 2.4 billion gallons of water. The city expects to fill it by the end of 2018.

It’s also situated in what will eventually be the Westside Reservoir Park, which will be bigger than Piedmont Park and will be connected to the BeltLine.

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