Fun Fun Fun Live Shot: Run the Jewels

Took the rap duo 39 years, but they’re finally stars

El-P was dead in the water. An old-school hard knocks MC thrust into the Vine era, he watched his life’s work – the precocious, antisocial Definitive Jux label – dissolve into thin air. Killer Mike, a fine MC whose claim to fame was deep ties to Outkast, wasn’t faring much better. Then 2013 arrived and these two unlikely heroes banded together as Run the Jewels.

El-P, meet Killer Mike (right) (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

A mutual love for acidic beats and political paranoia coalesced in a self-titled free download that set the rap world on fire sans any cross-promotion. It took them 39 years, but they’re finally stars in their own right. The sequel, Run the Jewels 2, now arrives as a physical LP you can buy in record stores.

RTJ could have easily headlined the Blue stage Friday rather than populating a late-afternoon spot in the build to 2 Chainz. You could tell by the crowd that more than tripled anything else on the grounds. The pumped duo came out firing wild on their trademark band name/album name/song name calling card, “Run the Jewels.” Follow-up “36-Inch Chain” still equates undershirt bling with rap’s working class.

New cuts like “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)” sport some more bitter, badass nihilism: “We killing ‘em for freedom cause they tortured us for boredom/ And even if some good ones die, fuck it, the lord will sort 'em.” Hard truths and humor – what’s one without the other?

Run the Jewels are a band about having fun. In an era of Drake confessionals and Future auto-tune gurgles, they’ve proven that rap music can still get the kids excited without a single asterisk.

Check out our complete Fun Fun Fun Fest coverage.

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Fun Fun Fun Fest, Run the Jewels, Fun Fun Fun Fest 2014, El-P, Killer Mike, Definitive Jux, Outkast, Drake

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