So as long as you have love and respect and prove authentic, there’s always been a way for the people that have been let in the door that did it right by it, you know, because you grew it. You know, we need allies.
run the jewels 4th album – Rap Duo Run The Jewels Knows When To Ditch Politics
El-P and Killer Mike, two of the most distinctive and celebrated names in rap, might have seemed like an unlikely pairing on paper, but the duo subverted and pulverized all expectations with their critically lauded Run The Jewels collaborative LP. Tapping into the creative synergy they’d discovered in 2012 on Mike’s R.A.P. Music album (produced by El-P) and El’s Cancer 4 Cure album (featuring Mike), Run The Jewels cemented their musical alliance with a set of uncompromisingly raw, forward thinking hip-hop, garnering limitless critical accolades including the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, XXL, SPIN, New York Times, and many more. EL-P: There’s something in the German language that makes you feel like you’re getting a hug and a backstab at the same time. laughs No, no, but what I really despise is, What are you listening to right now?” I can never come up with the answer, and I don’t think it’s a real question.
Before they met, both rappers were at crossroads in their respective careers, struggling with a lack of recognition and grappling with loss both personal and financial. The emergence of Run The Jewels is, therefore, not just a meteoric rise, but a remarkable career renaissance for these two hip-hop veterans.
Emporium’s newest popup is being produced in collaboration with Pipeworks Brewery and iconic hip hop duo Run the Jewels The RTJ themed popup bar will run during Lollapalooza and will feature the latest beer release Stay Gold” IPA – a beer brewed by PW and Interboro NYC in collab with RTJ.
As far as we can tell, the first concrete update on RTJ4 came in December 2017, nearly a year after the surprise Christmas Eve release of RTJ3. El-P teased the duo’s follow-up on Twitter Dec. 11, writing, fithy sic, dirty, dusty plans unfolding with @KillerMike #RTJ4” in a tweet that has since been deleted. He didn’t provide any further details, but based on more recent developments, it appears the duo’s plans at that time were still very much in flux.
Perhaps these sorts of antics, or simply the tag Killer,” made Mike an unlikely surrogate for Bernie Sanders in his presidential run. I’ve heard more than one pundit question his prominent role on the campaign trail. But another Sanders surrogate, former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, strongly disagrees.
In 2012 Killer Mike’s sixth album ‘R.A.P Music’ was produced by El-P, and Killer Mike in turn guested on El-P’s ‘Cancer 4 Cure’. The two hit it off and started working together as Run The Jewels, named after a lyric in LL Cool J‘s ‘Cheesy Rap Blues’. The self-titled LP was recorded in woody upstate New York and a studio in Brooklyn called the Space Pit before it took its rightful place as one of the most thrilling albums of the year. Killer Mike’s Atlanta baritone drawl cuts with El-P’s sinewy flow in a monument to the power of synergy in rap. It’s frenetic, elegant and rowdy with supporting acts from Big Boi and Prince Paul. We meet in the attic of the Ninja Tune office in South London on a autumn day so windy the leaves almost blow through the window to speak about atheism, Thatcher, feminism, body image, steak, cadence and more.
El-P: Now we know where we’ve been and we can go somewhere and do something that fits into the idea of a legacy. Now we’re a rap group. When Killer Mike and El-P of the rap duo Run the Jewels first met six years ago, they were 35 years old—over-the-hill by hip-hop standards.
As with the first two albums, RTJ3” mixes Killer Mike’s searing insights, from the perspective of a black Atlantan with a cadence to match his acuity, with El-P’s beat production and razor-witted, eloquent couplets as a white Brooklynite whose work as a rapper and producer has earned him underground respect and acclaim.
KILLER MIKE: Yeah. You know, if – I’m sure – if – there’s some libertarians that are probably saying, you guys don’t know Mike’s more libertarian than any of you think, you know. What I care about is that people know we’re free, you know. What I care about is – the older I get, the more of an anarchist I become. I didn’t, you know, and I don’t mean in the punk rock type of way where I just seek to destroy things.
Twenty-three years after LL Cool J rapped these lines on Cheesy Rap Blues,” hip-hop’s least likely super-duo, Killer Mike and El-P, are resurrecting LL’s rhymes as the battle cry for their first full-length collaboration as Run the Jewels.
The celebratory feel of this half-homecoming show was established early on. Birthday boy El-P (aka Brooklynite Jaime Meline) explained his gratitude over how, in the space of three albums, he and co-member Killer Mike (Atlanta’s Michael Render) had gone from having a little hobby to playing in front of thousands every night.
Maybe it’s because we already know what a new RTJ record entails. There’s solace in stability, even if we want it darker, harder, angrier. We knew it would be produced in its entirety by El-P, and we are well versed in his penchant for blowing slaphappy subwoofers. We could safely assume El-P would make dick jokes, and Killer Mike would threaten everything you’ve ever loved. We knew that the features would be expertly chosen, integral parts of a unified whole. We knew they would smoke pounds of their own supply and endow lucid, level headed commentary without compromising necessary urgency. We knew RTJ3 would be great. What we didn’t know is how much we needed it.
KILLER MIKE: I enjoy making solo and group records but I have to be honest: The group is just fun, fun, funfest because even when it’s difficult you have someone in there with you. My recording process is pretty much that same: Put on a dope El-P beat, walk around, smoke weed, pace for a few minutes, and shit will start coming.
oh and at the risk of losing the mystery of it all, RTJ4 will probably hit around summer time. i’m sorry if that schedule disappoints anyone but we need the time to make sure the music doesn’t. KILLER MIKE I owe that to them. They made me love Sabbath in a way that — thank ya’ll. And the guys that got their ass beat, thank you, too.
This new album is the most successful of the lot — calmer but not remotely calm, more emotional but not at all tender. The production — all by El-P, with additional production throughout by Little Shalimar and Wilder Zoby — is the team’s most considered to date, a warm update on the space-wars sonics of the first two albums.
EL-P: Yeah. Yeah. We were sitting in my – at the time – my mother’s 1985 brown – 1985 Buick waiting because we had given Stretch – Stretch was the first person we gave the record to. And we were like, we knew that he was going to play it at some point. You know, that’s a four-hour show, so we were there for the long haul.
KILLER MIKE I’m lucky to have grown up at a time when you could see Run-DMC and Metallica the same summer — whether it was Kill ‘Em All in ’83 and Run-DMC coming in ’83, ’84. The light and airy stuff was, like, what my mom was into, what my sisters were into. But I was into rage. Early rap and metal provided an outlet so you didn’t have to go to school and be angry. You just get it all out and play the music loud in your room. It still kind of does it, but even before then, the rock that I gravitated toward was heavy, so there was Zeppelin, there was Sabbath, there was Southern rock. It always had that darkness to it. And it had to feel cinematic.
BARTOS: It really is. Stevie is going off. You watch this clip and you just can’t help but be, you know, just dragged into the euphoria. I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life. I’ve spent hours on YouTube. And this has got to be one of the most joyful and intense performances I’ve ever seen.
From 2015 to 2018, Run The jewels toured constantly all over the world, and Trackstar the DJ had the best seat in the house each time they took the stage. He filmed every show and produced this live video megamix so that all Jewel Runners could experience the jams, jokes and joy of an RTJ show from onstage. Enjoy, motherfuckers.
The collaboration created sparks that surprised both MCs, and prompted them to explore and expand areas of their art in a way that led to some of the most indelible music of their careers. Both were coming off career high-point solo albums in 2012 — Killer Mike’s El-P-produced “R.A.P. Music” and El-P’s “Cancer 4 Cure” — when they began touring and then collaborating.
In the micro, RTJ3 exists because of the work provided on the previous two RTJ albums. The album came out on Christmas Day, two weeks ahead of its original January 13 release date. Yes, people screwed up their year-end release lists once they found out that Mikey and Jamie decided to give the world a Christmas miracle with their third effort. Did they announce, “our bad”? Not really; they moved on to questioning whether or not Drake’s liaison with Jennifer Lopez really needed an insider” to determine whether or not it was real. Or whether or not Soulja Boy was telling the truth in an awkward retelling of a robbery attempt at his studio. RTJ should be the main topic of discussion at the moment. It’s a passionate, almost crossroads moment for both El-P and Killer Mike, and yet it’s flying under a pretense of merely existing. RTJ3 has moments of existential crisis for both men.
When I saw Run the Jewels live in February, I remembered those words whenever Mike or El-P encouraged the crowd to reach out to each other — whether in the mosh pit or after the show. At different points, both MCs gave shout-outs to Black History Month and the Women’s March on Washington, while telling the crowd that this Trump era, though grim and disorienting, would one day pass, as did Ronald Reagan’s own Make America Great Again” campaign of misdirection, which they lived through in the 1980s. But they also said that we may not make it through this moment unless we take the time to talk to people who don’t seem, at least on the surface, to be like us: We are brothers and sisters,” the pair shouted.
El-P: But atheists who say ‘we’re right, you’re wrong’ are just as much of an asshole. If you’re telling anyone about an abstract concept that you’re right and they’re wrong then you’re a fucking asshole ‘cos you don’t know and they don’t know. Atheists are just as obnoxious if not more obnoxious than zealots. It’s the fucking yang of the yen of religious zealotry. I say fuck ‘em all and if you can do some good, do some good. And we’ll find out in the end.
El-P: You know why it’s getting worse? It’s getting worse because we’re farther down the timeline of human history and we are supposed to have moved past this already. Every second further that we go forward is an embarrassment. At the same time, the upside is that this record does speak something.
El-P and Uzoigwe’s relationship grew through Company Flow’s signing in 1996 to the indie label Rawkus Records — funded by Rupert Murdoch’s son James, now CEO of 21st Century Fox — which would soon be an underground powerhouse, home to Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, and others. When CoFlow left Rawkus, El-P’s goals were idealistic — to start a label by artists for artists — and Def Jux largely succeeded at being just that. But its financial demise was ugly.
Even before Run the Jewels released the first single off their sophomore album, “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” fans knew they were due for another dose of El-P’s staggering supernova beats. They knew that El-P (Jaime Meline) and Killer Mike’s (Michael Render) fire and brimstone lyrics would send all of its targets sputtering at the knees. What they didn’t expect to find in the midst of all the carnage were tears, remorse and love. Tears for the victims of the malignant orders of which the duo seeks to disrobe and undo. Remorse for the choices that were forced and came at the expense of the compassionate castaways. Love for those who need it the most.
Understandably, Run the Jewels (the music group) is unhappy about Run the Jewels (the movie). Both Killer Mike and El-P tweeted their annoyance, or at least confusion, that they weren’t contacted about this. El-P said he’ll be contacting lawyers, but it’s not clear he really has any legal recourse.
KILLER MIKE: I know I’m making a bold proclamation. With that said, when Michael Jordan puts on his number 23 and walked onto the court he didn’t give a fuck about Charles Barkley, Danny Ainge, or whoever was on the other side of that ball. I have worked very hard to be paid attention to and I feel like I’m at a point in my career where I can tell the truth about how the fuck I feel about me. We are dedicated to making the most badass brash rap with purpose and message. And I can’t promise you that is every MC’s purpose today. If that, for no other reason alone, once you hear the record you’ll understand why I made that statement.
Mike: It’s a worthless debate because it’s never going to change. It hasn’t changed in 50 years of rock music. It hasn’t changed in 2000 years of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It hasn’t changed in a world dominated by men on a politico-social level so I don’t understand how you expect a couple of kids from Detroit or kids from Brooklyn and Atlanta to transform the patriarchal power machine. I can’t give that shit up in 16 bars. I don’t even know how. I think that’s a question better asked to Barack Obama and the Pope. I just do drugs and rap about the women I’ve experienced who are as virtuous to me as my grandmother.