From cult-status to international acclaim and recognition, American hip-hop duo Run The Jewels are an unstoppable musical force, with their skyrocketing success seeing no end in sight. Having recently been announced in the line-ups for Coachella, Reading and Leeds and Lollapalooza Berlin, Killer Mike and El-P are in for a cracker 2015, with Run the Jewels 3 currently in the works.
Before forming in 2013, both men had already made names for themselves during their own individual careers. It was when El-P lent his production skills to Killer Mike’s critically acclaimed 2012 album R.A.P Music, that the two ignited their friendship and their musical partnership. Granted, Run the Jewels may not be the youngest of hip-hop groups around, but they’ve got the decades of experience, the spit-fire rhymes and the heaviest of beats to captivate and draw in new legions fans from around the world.
If you’re not already a fan of RTJ, then here are seven reasons as to why you should give them a spin.
Obviously the biggest contributing factor to the rapid success of Run the Jewels is their music. If you’ve never listened to any track by Run the Jewels, no amount of advice and precaution can prepare you for the sonic onslaught that will ensue. With their broad lyrical content ranging from anti-establishment themes, police abuse to songs about 36’’ chains and shooting dogs, Run the Jewels go gunning for each other’s throats. Mix this in with some of the best beats El-P has produced in his career and you’re left with a memorable listening experience.
Visceral, powerful and infectious as hell, you wouldn’t be stupid to think that Killer Mike and El-P have been working together all their lives. The two MC’s show chemistry comparable to that of Simon and Garfunkel (although I don’t think Simon and Garfunkel ever wrote songs about tea-bagging piranha tanks).
Their live shows are not for the faint hearted
It’s one thing to listen to one of their albums or watch their music videos, but to actually witness a Run the Jewels set in the flesh is something new altogether. Their powerful chemistry is at the front and centre of all their sets, with the two men constantly exchanging loving glances and smiles as they tear up any and every stage they perform on. If you are lucky enough to catch RTJ in the flesh, prepare yourself for a sea of circle pits, sweat and frantic elbows as Run the Jewels drop their shit, and hopefully, you’ll lose yours too.
They’re (almost painfully) loyal to their fans
When Run the Jewels 2 came out in October last year, the duo joked around and came up with 11 ridiculous album packages for their fans. One of these packages included Meow the Jewels, a remix album of RTJ2 with all of the music being replaced with cat sounds. All for the low price of $40 000. With the idea resulting from El-P smoking too much weed, the duo never anticipated the massive response it would get. A fan-led kick-starter campaign began and had already reached the target before RTJ2 even came out. With all proceeds going directly to charity, El-P has already begun work on Meow the Jewels, and from the little snippets on El-P’s Instagram page, it already sounds purr-fect (sorry, someone had to do it).
Nobody can mess with them
Just recently, Run The Jewels played a set at the Spotify House event as part of the annual SXSW festival. Right in the middle of their set, a man, albeit a very stupid man, decided to rush onto the stage and take a swing at El-P. Killer Mike was quick to react, and intercepted the attacker in front of onlooking fans. RTJ’s crew were on hand and soon escorted the man out. Killer Mike addressed the man from the stage, yelling at him “You a bitch nigga. Yo Mama should be ashamed she had you” before starting a “Fuckboy” chant as the man left.
God knows why he chose El-P as his target. Both men in Run The Jewels are pretty damn large and intimidating. And why he chose to pick a fight in the middle of one of their shows is beyond me. But this brief encounter has shown us that nobody can fuck with Run The Jewels. Nobody.
They have been raking in accolades
While they may have released their second album towards the back end of last year, it didn’t stop Run the Jewels from sneaking into plenty of ‘best of’ lists for 2014. Having already received rave reviews for RTJ2, its come as no surprise to see the album ranking very highly in many musical publications.
It received Album of the Year from both Pitchfork and Stereogum, and came in at no. 7 on The Guardian’s end of year list. It even came in at number 8 on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2014, and for a rap duo to rank so highly in a publication that’s mainly focused towards guitar-driven music, that’s pretty damn impressive.
Surprisingly, they give really useful dating advice
Ask a Grown Man is a regular segment for Rookie Magazine’s website where teenage girls send in their questions about the pitfalls of dating. and get their questions answered by people like Vampire Weekend and The Lonely Island. It’s a bit hard to picture Killer Mike and El-P giving useful dating advice to teenage girls, especially when you listen to their music. That said. they took on plenty of questions about first loves, to first kisses and how to ask someone out. The resulting advice is good, and I mean really good, useful advice for anyone of any age.
At the end of the day, they’re BFF’s
Killer Mike and El-P both have come from distinct musical and social backgrounds; Killer Mike is from Atlanta while El-P comes from Brooklyn, NY. The two have combined their styles and influences, and that’s translated into some of the best rap music for years. But they’re so much more than just musical collaborators to each other. They’re best friends. They always speak so highly of each other, whether they’re doing interviews for music publications or playing a set in front of thousands of people. They’ve got a bromance that Seth Rogen and James Franco would be jealous of, and are abolishing racial tensions, one stage at a time.
So go ahead, start listening to one of the best hip-hop duos. Period.