Everybody be cool this is a robbery! This has been a friendly reminder from EL-P and Killer Mike aka the hip hop duo Run The Jewels, and don’t forget the name.
In many ways, the collaboration between these two rappers was something of an inevitability. Both are painstakingly devoted to releasing consistently hard-hitting material while maintaining an intentional and cultivated outsider ethos. Both artists are still riding the momentum of acclaimed albums in 2012, wherein El-P handled production for Killer Mike’s effort R.AP. Music, and Killer Mike contributed the standout feature for El-P’s Cancer 4 Cure. El-P and Killer mike are also both known for delivering aggressive lyrics dense with unexpected meaning and humor. It’s safe to say these guys have a pretty similar mindset, and the fusion of their voices into one album has unleashed a menace, laying claim to everything it touches.
Setting the stage for this heist is El-P’s unique production style, laden with heavy, gritty bass-synth, searing guitars, heavy drum breaks and trap style 808’s. The beats on this album hit you in the gut without becoming overly maximal in the pursuit of a full-spectrum sound. El-P show a little more restraint than usual in his production here, leaving plenty of room for himself and formidable associate Killer Mike to wreak havoc on the tracks.
The duo tag teams many of their verses, throwing it back to a golden era of hip hop in which MCs show a tangible rapport with each other, one pushing the other to new heights. Lyrically El-P and Killer Mike sling acid, or maybe shrooms; both reference the influence of psilocybin. However, this is not enlightened flower-power rap, and Run The Jewels positions itself totally opposed to such from the very beginning. On the first verse of the album, El-P spits “Oh dear what the fuck have we here?/These motherfuckers all thorn no rose.”
Killer Mike and El-P pull no punches in putting rap on notice of their scheme to co-opt the game, yet they both appear impossibly relaxed and in their element on Run The Jewels. The effect is pure badassery with a vengeance. Killer Mike warns “Yes I bag the clams/Anyone object to the styles, get a smile and a backwards hand.” The way El-P and Killer Mike assert themselves has always been in your face without going over the top. Run Jewels doesn’t wear a chip on its shoulder, just your chain around its neck.