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With ‘RTJ2’ track ‘Love Again (Akinyele Back)’, they got festival tents chanting their self-confessed “fucking stupid chorus” all summer. Then, just as satirically, they invite in Gangsta Boo to flip every tired out hip-hop stereotype on its head. There’s a lot going on here, for a song that, on first glance, is all about dicks. ‘Early’, meanwhile, sees Killer Mike imagining himself - a black American - being dragged away by the cops in front of his son. Across the whole of Run the Jewels’ second record, in fact, there’s a clearly detectable shift. “We had a discussion about it,” says El-P of the gradual transition into something more complex. “[‘RTJ2’] needed to be more than just a fun record, it needed to represent who we were artistically. We knew there was a chance to make this thing grow,” he says. “I think the foundation of Run the Jewels is ‘RTJ1’. That vibe, and that playfulness with each other,” he adds. “We’ll never be a super serious group.” Besides the vibe El-P talks of, a refusal to do things by the book is also there buried in Run the Jewels’ foundations. From the very beginning, they also made the fairly weighty decision to release all their music for free. Not content with competing for first listens and sales, Run the Jewels played the game by their own rules. “It cuts out the bullshit,” states Killer Mike. “It’s an unspoken agreement between us and our audience. ‘Hey, we’re going to give you this record. If you like it, thanks. If you like it a lot, buy it, or come out and see us at a show, support us, and buy a t-shirt or something.’” “We don’t like the vilification of all the people that are allowing you to do the thing that you love,” continues El-P. “One of the byproducts of the confusion, as the industry’s changed, has been this really misplaced us vs. them. We don’t like that,” he says, flat out. “We’re not interested in trying to point a finger at something that is, at this point, essentially an antiquated business model. We also respect you if you don’t buy music, and if you can’t buy music. That’s the biggest gesture we could imagine to our fans; to say we want you, we want you involved, interested, listening. That’s it.” That sense of openness also extends to politics, outside of their music. Appearing on news channels across the world

as a social commentator, and speaking at universities across America on the subject, Killer Mike particularly has become a hugely important voice in the dialogue surrounding race in America. On the night of the Grand Jury’s verdict on the killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, Run the Jewels were playing a show in St. Louis, as Ferguson’s protesters continued to take to the streets outside the venue. A clearly emotional Killer Mike spoke directly to the room in light of the verdict; speaking about his fears for his children, his wife, his black community, and for the future of America. Then, he and El-P launched together into the angriest, most venomous rendition of ‘Run the Jewels’ imaginable. “As a black man, and a father of two boys in America, I feel a responsibility to do that,” Killer Mike says today. “There are not a lot of people doing it in a way that I view as effective. There are not a lot of people who understand the perspective, the pressure it is to be a young AfricanAmerican male in America. I have the perspective of having a policeman as a father,” he adds. “I think there are extremes,

extremists on both sides just shouting for the other side to lose. I don’t see a lot of growth coming out of that.” That calling, he adds, exists out of the realms of art, and comes down to something more basic. “I feel a responsibility to make good art, too,” picks up Killer Mike, “and sometimes that’s very social, and poignant, and speaks to the human soul. Sometimes,” he laughs, his folding completed, and ready to bus off to yet another sold out tour date, “it’s just utterly ridiculous shit about shooting a poodle.” DIY

Who leFt the dogs out!?

Since ‘Meow the Jewels’ dropped, there have been unverified reports of animals reacting in unprecedented ways. Cats, apparently, view it like musical catnip. Poor dogs, on the other hand, are terrified. We put these claims to the creators. Have you tried playing Meow the Jewels to a cat yet? Mike: I haven’t, but I’ve heard cats have reacted in various ways. It varies from mildly entertained to just going batshit crazy. El-P: I saw a great video of a dog, a chiwawa, and the owner was playing ‘Meow the Jewels’ . You saw the dog’s face, and it was just completely uncomfortable. Mike: It’s like a zombie movie for dogs. Do you feel like maybe you’ve disappointed quite a few of your canine fans? El-P: We owe dogs something. Mike: We gotta look out for the dogs.

Run the Jewels’ tour bus is an understated, low key automobile. 54 diymag.com

How about ‘Woof the Jewels’? El-P: Fuck no. On all that is holy. Never again.

Profile for DIY Magazine

DIY, November 2015  

Featuring artists doing it their way - Hinds, Run The Jewels, Father John Misty, Shamir and more. Plus on tour with Wolf Alice and Drenge, a...

DIY, November 2015  

Featuring artists doing it their way - Hinds, Run The Jewels, Father John Misty, Shamir and more. Plus on tour with Wolf Alice and Drenge, a...