El-P’s former guise as a producer of highbrow hip hop has been rather cast away in his collaboration with Killer Mike as Run The Jewels. That is not to say that their lyrical content is dumbed down, far from it. Anyone hoping hoping to hear a faithful recreation of Run The Jewels' records did not get it. Everyone else had a fucking great time.
If Sunday is a traditional day of rest no one told the swells of sweaty bodies losing shoes, phones, hats and anything not tied down near the front of the stage. It was not clean but from the moment Mike and El-P emerged onstage to Queen’s We Are The Champions it was honest and fun.
There have been thousands of shows where more attention is paid to musical craft but when the show consists of two MCs and their DJ the expectation is more balls out than Bach. Chin strokers get out. This is live hip hop’s perennial problem and unless you get energy in place of perfect delivery and crisp instrumental it can be a little underwhelming. Mike and El-P are both in their 40s but whipped a storm for the crowd mostly 20 years their junior that ensures they far surpassed expectations.
Mostly they played tracks from Run The Jewels 3, including Hey Kids (Bumaye) which allowed them to bring out support act Danny Brown to deliver his verse of high pitched weirdo rap. From the second album, Close Your Eyes has the whole room baying “run them jewels fast” and charging into each other with friendly vengeance and by the time they emerge for the encore they could play Meow the Jewels and get love for it. They did not but they could have.
Words: Tom Bassam
Photo: Joshua Simpson