Back in August, Killer Mike – 50% of 2013-owning rap duo Run The Jewels, beside producer-MC El-P – told Clash that he wanted to make the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice: once as a solo artist, and once as the member of a group. Of this group.
On this form, it’s not looking impossible. Run The Jewels hit the stage sprinting lyrically, backed just by the scratch-happy DJ Trackstar, devastating the front rows of this refurbished Brixton venue with the title-cut of their eponymous debut LP (Clash review), and from there they only get harder and faster. ‘Banana Clipper’ might be Big Boi-less in London, but the packed-tight crowd doesn’t care: the track explodes into existence before halting abruptly after an El-P passage which, on record, would lead to the OutKast man’s contribution.
Precedent set, what follows never once disappoints. The bouncers, like ‘Get It’ and ‘36” Chain’, are received as they should be: bodies moving, fists pumping, expensive lager spilled. ‘A Christmas F*cking Miracle’ might be a downer live, the album’s tone-turning closer rather more downbeat of lyric than what precedes it. But with Killer Mike hollering like a man trying to communicate his message with the residents of Morden, it’s a striking set-piece affair, a high amongst several.
With only 10 tracks, ‘Run The Jewels’, the album, is exhausted in little time – but its makers sure as hell are not, Mike encouraging attendees to call for a solo-material encore. And that’s just what we get – Mike pulling ‘Big Beast’ and ‘Reagan’ (quasi-dedicated to the late Baroness Thatcher) from his ‘R.A.P. Music’ locker, and El-P going entirely H.A.M. on ‘Drones Over Brooklyn’, from ‘Cancer 4 Cure’ (Clash review).
Run The Jewels live is as the album plays: short and sharp, potent as hell, not a second wasted. Even El-P’s between-song banter is of a fine standard – he takes the time to sincerely thank people for getting behind this project, one that’s giving two old hands in the rap game the chance to play before all-new audiences, and is rarely found wanting for an amusing quip. As the bass booms loud, the twin MCs go to work in a fashion both expertly studied and spectacularly natural, like they were born to do this and nothing else.
A second Run The Jewels LP is expected in 2014. With it, Killer Mike and his partner in rhyme should edge closer to that Hall Of Famer status. And if not, all of those voters are probably too busy being dumbed down by their local radio stations. Whatever. We’ll keep the real bad guy shit for ourselves.
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