Raised 826 miles apart, Killer and Mike and El-P weren’t always political rappers, but the duo has always attempted to work out a point when feeling that their heads were under water. Each rapper’s distinctive style has always been deliberate and their association – a phenomenal late team-up considering both musicians are now in their 40’s – is exactly what society called for. Since joining forces on 2012’s R.A.P. Music, and most recently Run The Jewels 3, the duo has skyrocketed into the mainstream spotlight and provided the community with a much needed revolutionary rhyming narrative.
Run The Jewels uses poetry as protest or as unashamed Killer Mike says: “I rap about the stuff [Bernie Sanders] rants about.” However, on the first go-around this isn’t always apparent to every listener and that’s exactly where the beauty lies. RTJ has nearly sold-out every show they’ve offered on their U.S. winter tour and it isn’t because everybody is looking for a means to protest through music.
Photos by Jared Allen and Benjamin Robson
While political rap drives their most recent release Run The Jewels 3, it’s also the El-P produced beats that attract and drive fandom to the supergroup. In fact, the beat and vibe is typically what charms the listeners (Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” isn’t by any means advanced lyrically, yet it’s the most listened to song in U.S.).
Run The Jewels uses this to their advantage before turning their live show to a palace of smiles. In front of blood red and ocean blue lights, the pair spits the cleanest of lines and the each persona seamlessly supports each other. While Killer Mike rhymes about the political struggles, El-P dives in with quick-paced pitch about life and its daily competitors. The two show off an unrivaled chemistry and stage presence that elevates each other’s image.
Throughout the deep set, RTJ remained with their feet on the ground. Never once did the duo openly promote hate and instead brought a considerably diverse crowd together through music that each artist carried with them out of the less fortunate areas in New York and Atlanta. Killer Mike and El-P underlined safety and to respect each other over all. The two emphasized what it means to live in the 21st century with respect and love the driving force behind everyday actions.
As aforementioned, music’s deeper meaning isn’t the calling card for the casual listeners, but Killer Mike and El-P have knack for respectively pushing their political means through undeniably catchy beats.