Switch on the telly, flick through any newspaper, or take a cursory glance out of the window, and things look very, very bad. From the blind jump into idiocy that is Brexit, to the presidential election of flaxen-haired tangerine Donald Trump in the United States, a poisonous fear of difference and otherness has fuelled political catastrophes across the world. 2016 was a washout, but the real shitshow is only just kicking off. Now it’s time to organise and fight back, and Run the Jewels are leading the charge.
Four years ago – back in those heady days when pig-gate was still just a hellish episode of Black Mirror - El-P and Killer Mike were both acclaimed lone rangers, stalwarts of the underground rap scene. Each boasting decade-long solo careers and well into their thirties, both members of Run the Jewels were set in their own rights, but a hunger to keep taking risks brought the two minds together. In 2013, their debut album ‘Run the Jewels’ was very much an experiment. Now, with three records to their name, the group is their sole focus. A super-glue strong bond, a natural artistic chemistry, and a constant drive to challenge one another has brought Run The Jewels to this point. The duo have also grown far darker, meaner, and more complex. Their third album – launching into the bleakest surroundings possible – feels more necessary than ever. While previous records flame-threw into life, in a bombastic spin of poodle-shooting, and self-aware braggadocio, ‘Run the Jewels 3’ feels different. The opening of the entire record begins, very tellingly, with two simple words: I hope.
“My grandmother used the word hope a lot when I was a kid,” remembers Killer Mike, chatting the morning after a sold-out show in Philadelphia; the pair’s first live date with ‘RTJ3’ deployed and out there. “She didn’t use it wistfully. She would say ‘oh, I try to hope you all I can’. I think she was trying to say help, but she really meant hope. ‘I will pray and hope for you,’ she’d say,” Mike goes on. “I realised hope is a verb. It takes action.”