Two rappers, different backgrounds, coming together to form something amazing. That’s the story of El-P and Killer Mike, two US based rappers who form Run the Jewels (RtJ). Run the Jewels are not afraid to experiment in terms of their sound, combining rap with a heavy and raw beat that makes RtJ so iconic. The pair blur the lines between Rock, Rap, Hip-Hop and Electronic music, in a similar way as artists such as Linkin Park or The Prodigy and this distinctive sound is what attracts many of RtJ’s fan. Take the single ‘Call Ticketron’ from the duo’s third album Run the Jewels 3. It has some features in the backing track that hark back to ’90s hip hop (along with a throwback reference to Outkast’s ATLiens) merged with modern electronic beats which back a dirty, pumped rap piece about past, present and future, it is quite like nothing else out there.
The RtJ rappers first met when El-P was put in charge of producing Killer Mike’s 2012 album R.A.P Music. The two also worked together shortly after on El-P’s 2012 album Cancer 4 Cure. The duo’s albums were released less than 2 weeks apart, and decided to tour the US together, which was successful. Off the success of the tour, the duo decided to team up on a project, which later became the group RtJ, inspired by the LL Cool J song ‘Cheesy Rat Blues’. The following year, the pair released their first self-titled studio album, Run the Jewels.
In October 2014, RtJ released their followup album, Run the Jewels 2, which contained some big names, such as Zach De La Rocha (Rage Against The Machine) on the lead track ‘Close Your Eyes and Count To Fuck’. They then remixed that album for release in September 2015 as a charity album, renamed it Meow the Jewels, which is apt as most of the heavy beats had been replaced with feline tones. The concept shouldn’t work, the idea is insane, however it’s so out there that the cat noises pair perfectly with the duo’s cutting-edge rap aesthetic. Between the releases of Run the Jewels 2 and Meow the Jewels, the duo toured with various other artists, such as Jack White and Blink 182’s drummer Travis Barker.
2016 brought us their most recent album, Run the Jewels 3, which was released digitally in December 2016, and in a physical form the following January. Arguably, RtJ 3 was their breakthrough album: tracks from it (and written since) have featured in multiple film releases (most notably ’Legend Has It’ in a trailer for Black Panther) and video games (‘Mean Demeanor’ for the game FIFA 18) since, possibly due to the simply unique and raw sound of RtJ. Since then, El-P and Killer Mike have worked on remixes, both as a duo and individually, most notably remixing Lorde’s ‘Supercut’, who they also supported on her 2017 tour.
So where is RtJ going next? The duo released the single ‘Let’s Go (The Royal We)’, which was used in the soundtrack for the film Venom in October 2018. It marks the start of exciting things ahead: El-P confirmed will be the first track from their next album, Run the Jewels 4.
Run The Jewels’ latest album, Run the Jewels 3, is available now via Run The Jewels, Inc.