parodies by nacrowe
the more i stop to consider the HIP HOP duo RUN THE JEWELS, the more i come to the realization that they have quietly become the most significant rap group of the past decade. there are so many concurrent threads and movements in HIP HOP, some cane be described as geographic (SOUTHERN, EAST COAST, WEST COAST) while others are socio-political (NATIVE TONGUES) or hyper-literate (WU-TANG CLAN, EMINEM, RAKIM) or just plain entertainment. whats interesting to me is that RUN THE JEWELS seemingly covers all those bases.
i think what got me think about KILLER MIKE and EL-P recently was the fact that they were set to open for RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE on their recent comeback(?) tour that was cancelled due to ZACK DE LA ROCHA's on-stage leg injury. it made me consider that the last time RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE had a high profile HIP HOP tour-mate was when they co-headlined with WU-TANG CLAN in the late 1990s. its safe to say that at this point in time WU-TANG is a cultural institution that has stood the test of time, both for their lyrical dexterity and creative production, but also for what they represent as a unit of black artists who have supported each other for decades. when i consider RUN THE JEWELS and the communities KILLER MIKE and EL-P represent, they seem positioned to be a likewise beacon for creative stability and potent expression on behalf of their audiences as the speak truth to power. literally.
KILLER MIKE is famously from ATLANTA and is associated with OUTKAST during his early career. he has released several solo albums and in the wake of success with RUN THE JEWELS was a vocal proponent of BERNIE SANDERS 2020 presidential campaign. EL-P is a celebrated NYC producer and MC, who previous to RUN THE JEWELS was essentially ALTERNATIVE HIP HOP royalty. his work with COMPANY FLOW and time running the label he founded DEFINITIVE JUX, make him an icon of sorts for underground HIP HOP heads. the fact that this unlikely pairing of respected (but not previously bankable) MCs have become so widely successful is quite extraordinary.
what i appreciate is that their time in the spotlight has been utilized deftly as a platform to promote social change by discussing prison reform, police violence and education policy openly in their lyrics. that stance alone puts them in unique company. makes me think of them alongside PUBLIC ENEMY, ANA TIJOUX, KRS-ONE, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST and TALIB KWELI among others that leverage their popularity to advocate causes they believe in. for me that is their true legacy and i look forward to seeing how their music and politics evolve for years to come.
below is an episode of DEER GOD RADIO from July 2020 on nonprofit NYC radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC celebrating RUN THE JEWELS. enjoy