EL-P & Killer Mike - Run The Jewels @ Webster Hall

August 14th, 2013

If you're a hip hop fan and haven't heard Run The Jewels, do yourself a favor and immediately get yourself a copy.  It is one of the best albums of 2013.  EL-P and Killer Mike are both gargantuan talents on their own.  Together they form a two headed monster that crushes all in its path.  The more spins you give their latest 10 song release on Fool's Gold, the more in awe you'll be.  Neither man is happy to just deliver an ill flow, which comes as second nature to them.  Lyrically they tread on ground few have the courage to even approach.  They alternate between playing the good guys and the bad guys, the heroes and the villains, like shapeshifting poets who embrace the duality of the human condition.  Laugh inducing wit in one line can quickly shift to a skewering social commentary in the next.  As EL-P says on their track Twin Hype Back, "Run the Jewels is not for your children."

The place was packed wall to wall with an energetic crowd who got what they paid for and more.  First up was the opener, Despot, a Def Jux veteran who rocked the stage all by his lonesome and set the tone with a strong set.  Next up was Killer Mike.  The big man worked his way through his catalog, leaning heavily on his great album "R.A.P. Music", which was produced by El.  A highlight was his stripped down performance of Reagan, a fearless take down of the powers that be.  He even got down on the floor at the end to spit a verse amongst the fans.  The crowd ate it up.  EL-P came out next and gave a scorching performance.  Songs from his 2012 solo record "Cancer for Cure" sounded bigger and more ambitious than the recorded versions, which is quite the feat.  With the crowd worked into a full lather, Killer Mike joined El on stage.  After putting on their 36" chains to raucous applause, they commenced to blow the roof off the place.  I'm sure the fact it was the last show of their summer tour played a part.  It probably helped that both had family in the house, including EL-P's mother cheering him on from the balcony.  At one point he said, "Hey Mom, remember all those high schools I got kicked out of?  Well, this is what I was going to do."  After years of refusing to be anyone's puppet, two artists are finally having their work validated.  No wonder they attack the mic like their life depends on it.  Oh, and don't forget, EL-P produces everything.  Easily one of the best shows I've seen this year.  There's been talk of them teaming up for another album soon.  It needs to happen. 

Run The Jewels will be performing at the Fool's Gold Day Off festival in Williamsburg on Monday, September 2nd.  It's free with an RSVP.  To get yourself on the list, go HERE