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Lollapalooza Tue Aug 05 2014
As somewhat dated as this reference is becoming, Run the Jewels are the anti-Watch the Throne; two anarchist leaning savage bullies who'd gleefully kick in the windows of mansions only to break in and steal the Basquiat paintings belonging to rapper millionaires.
El-P and Killer Mike have have been doing their own things for awhile now. El-P ran the much respected alt rap label, Definitive Jux, before deciding to pursue a solo career. Killer Mike was a student of Outkast as well as a member of Atlanta's Dungeon Family. Killer Mike guest starred on El-P's latest album, Cancer 4 Cure for the single "Tougher Colder Killer." They realized they had chemistry and kept the partnership going. In 2013, they released their debut mixtape as a collective, the self titled Run the Jewels.
What has always struck me about Killer Mike is his presence, both physically and on the microphone. I was in high school when Stankonia came out. I was catching a ride to campus in my friend's car and he had the album in his CD player. I remember the subtle fear and intimidation I felt when I was introduced to Killer Mike on "Snappin & Trappin" and thinking "well...this is a man not be trifled with" to myself as I smoked Newport 100s I had no business having.
This presence was clearly present during Saturday's sold out Lollapalooza afterparty at Double Door. Anticipation was built to a fever pitch as Run the Jewels came on stage to Queen's "We Are the Champions." Things quickly escalated as Killer Mike pranced around stage with his large and menacing frame while boasting to lesser rappers in his thunderous cadence that "he's like Tyson in the 80s that he'll punch your lights out and like Tyson in the 90s that if he loses he'll take a bite out." El-P, on the other hand, was charismatically paranoid; rapping about his perceived absurdities of modern life while leaving the listeners to determine for themselves if what they've heard is the ranting of a madman or a sane man.
The set itself was everything I've come to expect from the duo after seeing them at last year's Pitchfork Festival. They played most of the mixtape as well as a few things from El-P's and Killer Mike's respective solo albums. They ended their set with a preview from their upcoming album, performing a song called "Blockbuster Night" which seems to be more of the same high energy one-upmanship bravado that has become their signature.