Release Date: Jun 26, 2013
Record label: Fool's Gold Records
A record label choosing to release an underground hip-hop mixtape that has been available as a free download for the last six months – and indeed is still available as a free download now – seems an unlikely state of affairs: a mass of convincing evidence suggests most people won't buy something they can get for nothing at the click of a button, even if you do add an extra disc of unreleased remixes. Then again, the union between Jaime "El-P" Meline and Mike "Killer Mike" Render seems a pretty unlikely state of affairs, too: "eyebrow-raising" was the term the former used to describe their partnership as Run the Jewels. Producer and rapper El-P is virtually the living embodiment of alternative hip-hop, a founder of both the revered "independent as fuck" trio Company Flow and the Definitive Jux label.
Review Summary: Long Live El-PeezusUnintentionally (or not - who knows), Run The Jewels is a profound counterpoint to Kanye West's recent attempt at popularizing all that producer El-P has represented, created, and progressed for over more than a decade. Sputnikmusic's Channing Freeman observed that Yeezus was rushed at the very least; at its worst it poses as a haphazard, sophomoric attempt at electronic-come-experimental hip-hop. Kanye's unclear intent more-so aligns with economic and popular culture goals, whereas Killer Mike and El-P's second formal collaboration lives and breathes this very culture he tries to popularize.
Whether you are coming into Run the Jewels high on last year’s respective Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music, or you are flaunting your Company Flow knowledge, or you are Andre 3000, the ability for El-P and Killer Mike to drift in and out of the rap conversation has hinged more on people’s attention spans than on their skills or consistency. Regardless, their inaugural collaborative album as Run the Jewels catches the new duo on the high-end of an upswing, with their project seeming like a clever play on what smart people do while others are watching the throne.
Even for those of us who go all the way back to “8 Steps to Perfection” and “The Whole World”, it's starting to feel like El-P and Killer Mike have always been talked about in the same breath. The connection makes a kind of retroactive sense going back to their early 2000s solo debuts, Fantastic Damage and Monster. Both albums seethed with the anxious funk of retrofuture 808s-and-synths production that rattled trunks and cages with unrestrained intensity.
Run The Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike)Run The Jewels[Fool's Gold Records; 2013]By Gabriel Szatan; August 1, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetFirst impressions can often be misleading, so when the mooted link-up between a darkly comic Brooklyn beatsmith much-steeped in dark comics and an Atlantan emcee whose defining moment in the public eye had been a decade-old Outkast guest spot became a concrete reality, it turned heads. Doubters were proved doubly wrong last year by Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music, the latter in particular showing off just how successful the combination of Killer Mike's polemical snarl and El-P's "eye for distortion" could prove.
Just when you thought Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch The Throne’ was guaranteed to be the hip-hop collaboration of the decade, along comes the equally thrilling co-production ‘Run The Jewels’. Last year, Killer Mike’s ‘RAP Music’ was produced by El-P, and Killer Mike in turn guested on El-P’s ‘Cancer 4 Cure’ – but this is the first time the pair have done vocals together. On this free release (our recommendation: download it immediately), we’re in showboating diss-talk territory, with the two men rapping elegantly about rapping but managing to do it with a fresh, frenetic energy.
This is the Killer Mike (a.k.a. Michael Render) and El-P (a.k.a. Jaime Meline) show. El-P’s verses and beats don’t “breathe;” they don’t have “soul;” they don’t “groove;” shit, they aren’t even properly suited under the umbrella of “hip-hop.” Killer Mike’s verses aren’t porous; they aren’t abstruse; they most certainly are not amenable; shit, they’re so didactic and polemical that they hardly exist under the umbrella of “art.” There’s a warmth and humanity implied in each of these distinctions — some of which are softened by their collaboration — that doesn’t exist in El-P and Killer Mike’s recently demarcated, consolidated, and cloistered universe of Run the Jewels.
A list of activities you might be inspired to try after listening to Run The Jewels, the eponymous new project from the El-P and Killer Mike partnership: karate chopping through a cement block, participating in an underground fight club, running through walls like Rhino in the 1960s Spider-Man cartoons. While Jay-Z, Kanye, et al., compete to have the bestselling album of the summer, the frequent collaborators (El produced Mike's 2012 album, R.A.P. Music) have made one of the best hip-hop records of 2013 and put it out for free.
In his pre-“NCIS: LA” existence, LL Cool J once rhymed in the persona of a struggling rapper on “Cheesy Rat Blues.” Times got so hard that Mr. Smith implored the crowd to engage in a classic B-Boy approval gesture of waving their hands in the air. Then he relieved them of their trinkets by ….
Run the Jewels :: Run the JewelsFool's Gold RecordsAuthor: Patrick TaylorKiller Mike's El-P-produced "R.A.P. Music" was one of the last year's strongest albums, going neck-in-neck with El-P's own "Cancer 4 Cure." They brought out the best in one another: El-P's beats seemed to get Mike away from the Southern gangsta rap cliches he sometimes wallowed in, while Mike challenged El-P to move in a funkier direction, adding some swing to his often brutal beats. The two rappers toured together, and somewhere along the road decided to make an album together.
I have seen Killer Mike and El-P obliterate a building, on the West Side of Chicago (read that a la Cam in ‘Dipset Anthem‘), joined by the charmingly self-depreciating Despot and the then-Muthafuckin Mr. eXquire, two fine rappers who could not have mattered less when Mike and El-P took to the stage, which is a commentary on the transcendent performances the pair delivered, not a knock on their set mates. Killer Mike, all lumbering passion, righteous anger and colossal dimensions, had the crowd chanting “Fuck Ronald Reagan!” and celebrating father figures, rapt with attention over political tension and unleashing violent jubilance to ‘Never Scared’; El-P kept the stage bathed in Blade Runner black and crimson, pushing forward song after song, wave after wave, each laced through with that unmistakable, unadulterated New York City flow, the Platonic Universal of New York City flows, placing that timeless New York City flow atop pulsating, EDM-influenced instrumentation accented by noodling, incandescent live key and guitar solos.
After producing two of 2012’s most exciting rap albums, El-P and Killer Mike have joined forces for the 10-track Run the Jewels. The narrative of dynamic-MCs-turned-superpower may sound familiar. Sure, Jay-Z and Kanye did it on a much grander scale, but Watch the Throne ended up being a solid effort in the shadow of a mountain of hype. The basis of any worthwhile friendship is how they get along with each other, and by that measure, the duo are more golden than Kanye’s sarcophaggus chain.
Run the Jewels is El-P and Killer Mike – the noise-loving Brooklyn rapper-producer and the gut-punching Atlanta MC who blended perfectly on Mike's great 2012 album R.A.P. Music. On this release, available as a free download, the vibe is somewhere between the coherence of an album and the casual flow of a mixtape. El-P's beats are typically dense and Mike's rhymes rough-and-tumble.
Killer Mike & El-P Run the Jewels Black thunder, white lightning. "The most beef and broc on your fucking block." Run the Jewels, the free, downloadable tag team from longstanding East Coast rappers Killer Mike and El-P, doubles as the freshest, most exhilarating rap album of 2013: two long lost brothers pushing prophecy ("crew drops, do up your squad without nuance"), and clowning on any coward who'd try to rip it in their realm. Killer Mike moves "with the eloquence of an African elephant," nimbly lumbering around El-P's precise, harrowing production like 330 pounds of cocoalicious lovin'.
After the widespread success of Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music, the well-versed rapper realized and more importantly, acknowledged the streaming chemistry developed with multi-talented El-P. A partnership that worked wonders, El-P highlighted Killer Mike’s thirsty and hungry flow with production that was equal parts heavy beats and relentless pace. The duo was quick to act on this budding chemistry with a collaborative effort entitled Run the Jewels and their self-titled debut is another extension of that aforementioned brilliant partnership.
All relationships require work, but the friendship between Killer Mike and El-P looks easy. After first teaming up for 2012’s political noise-rap throwback masterpiece, R.A.P. Music, which saw Mike rapping with startling precision and pugnacity over El-P’s minimalist bomb shelter symphonies, the duo spent much of the next year taunting everyone with all the fun they were having.
When this year’s Adult Swim singles project opened with a track from El-P and Killer Mike collaborating as ‘Run The Jewels’, it’s fair to say people got a bit excited. So when they released this self-titled debut long-player as a free download, seemingly without a great deal of warning, those same folks were rightfully delirious.Of course people are hyped. These are two of the most mesmerising, forward-thinking hip hop artists around; men who released two of the finest albums of last year, and make some of the most innovative sounds of their genre; El-P’s more abstract ‘Cancer For Cure’ and Killer Mike’s more straight-up ‘R.A.P.
Produced entirely by El-P, last year’s R.A.P. Music was one of the standout hip-hop releases of 2012. Killer Mike’s raps were dense hunks of sinew that slithered and flexed all over the bones of El-P’s beats, weighty yet deft. Now, Killer Mike and El-Producto have formed a rap duo proper, Run The Jewels and their self-titled debut has all the makings of a hip-hop classic.