Run The Jewels
About Run The Jewels
The fact that rappers Michael “Killer Mike” Render and Jaime “El-P” Meline were first introduced by an executive at the Cartoon Network doesn’t make for the most mythic hip-hop supergroup origin story. But that unlikely power-brokered setup is oddly fitting for a duo that have since transcended their underground origins to become one of the most outspoken, media-savvy voices in rap since the glory days of Public Enemy and one of the most visible brands since the Wu-Tang Clan. Before that fateful meeting in 2011 (precipitated by their individual participation in Adult Swim’s popular singles-club program), the Atlanta-based Killer Mike and Brooklyn-bred El-P were both towering figures in the indie-rap trenches—the former came up as a member of the extended Outkast family, the latter was a member of ‘90s alt-rap trio Company Flow and cofounder of the hallowed Def Jux imprint. But the union between the two created an immediate big-bang effect that launched them into the mainstream. From their 2013 self-titled debut through 2020’s RTJ4, Run The Jewels established themselves as a brash, ‘90s-nodding antidote to a post-Drake era of introspective MCs, favoring the sort of rapid-fire interplay, electro-blasted boom-bap productions, and righteous indignation that appealed to old-school heads and headbangers alike. (Few other crews would think of roping in Pharrell and Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha on the same track, as they did for 2020’s anti-capitalist screed “JU$T.”) At the same time, RTJ’s crossover success has thrust Killer Mike’s long-standing community activism into the national spotlight, making him a frequent commentator on newscasts and late-night talk shows, and positioning Run The Jewels as the unofficial house band for the Black Lives Matter revolution.