“We’re going to burn this motherfucker to the ground.” Killer Mike grabbed the microphone and hold of the crowd in NYC for a set of sold out shows, and never let go until he dropped it.
Stage 48 was rocked to its foundations by hardcore hip-hop duo Run The Jewels. The duo, consisting of emcee Michael “Killer Mike” Render and emcee/producer Jamie “El-P” Meline, has seen a sudden surge in popularity this year after the release of their second album, Run the Jewels 2 through Mass Appeal Records. Individually, Killer Mike and El-P have been making waves in the Atlanta and NY hip-hop scenes back in the ’90s. The two teamed up for the first time on Mike’s 2012 album, R.A.P. Music, which El produced in its entirety. They formed RTJ in 2013, and release a self-titled debut album of cartoonishly aggressive and hard-hitting hip-hop through Fools Gold Records.
Since then, fans old and new alike have been singing RTJ’s praises, as evidenced by the group selling out shows across the country on their second nationwide tour. RTJ have proved their boldness throughout the tour, being one of the only music groups to play a show in St. Louis the night that the grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., refused to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of 18-year-old African-American teen Michael Brown. Killer Mike gave a riveting and heartbreaking speech that night, and it’s becoming a common occurrence for him to speak his overtly politically conscious mind. Check out the op-ed he co-wrote for USA Today just yesterday.
Their New York show was mostly smiles, however, as New York City, El-P’s stomping grounds and Mike’s adopted home, welcomed the group with open arms. The night started with a brief scratching display by the 2014 DMC Championship-winning DJ Dwells, a 13-year-old DJ who scratched and switched records with ease.
Next up was Harlem punk-rap group Ratking, made up of rappers Wiki (pictured, left) and Hak and backed by production from Sporting Life (pictured, right). Their cacophonous sound, Bomb Squad-esque mixed with industrial sounds, and punk sensibilities make for a great live show, but Hak’s absence really detracted from the overall set. After Ratking came Queens rapper Despot (pictured below, left), an emcee of note from El-P’s independent label Definitive Jux. He’s as notorious for his love of Polo sweaters and his long-delayed debut album, but he surprised the crowd by performing the majority of his upcoming album, including his song “House Full of Bricks” and a surprise duet with singer/songwriter Blood Orange.
With the crowd of Jewel Runners thoroughly hyped, it was time for Mike and El to appease the masses. The two were in perfect sync with each other the whole show, giving as much energy as they received from the crowd while dancing up a storm to the mixes of their tour DJ Trackstar. They covered classics from their first album like “Banana Clipper,” “36” Chain,” and “DDFH,” but spent the majority of the time covering the new tracks like “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry,” “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” and “Lie, Cheat, Steal.” They brought Despot back out for a song off El-P’s 2012 solo album “Caner 4 Cure. Surprise guest Gangsta Boo of Three Six Mafia performed her sexually charged verse from the song, “Love Again (Akinyele Back).”
It’s safe to say that when you have two emcees as viciously skilled and energetic as Mike and El come through to a venue, you’re going to leave with your hands stuck in the fist and gun position and your mind and eyebrows blown clean out. That’s exactly what Run The Jewels delivered on Saturday night, a hardcore hip-hop haven for all the Jewel Runners in NYC.
Dylan “CineMasai” Green is a movie geek, hip-hop aficionado, and pita chip enthusiast. Find him on Twitter.
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