When someone asks who Run The Jewels are, I like to describe them as follows. They are a hardcore hip-hop duo with a style not to dissimilar to that of tag team wrestlers. They’re angry, they’re over the top, and they’re perfectly in sync.
Killer Mike is big, mean, and angry. Born and raised in Atlanta with an incredible ability to lay down the rhymes to the hard beats next to his partner in crime, El-P, who is also angry but ginger and from Brooklyn.
Their lyrics explore the hustle, the grind, and the fury to craft the perfect soundtrack to the urban lifestyle of the politically insane 21st century.
The show was opened by Danny Brown, a rapper with a very abrasive voice that may take some getting used to. However, if you ever doubted him before seeing him live, the experience will make you a fan for life. It sure made me one.
It was one of those rare occasions where the opener is as talented and popular as the main act. Danny swaggered on stage to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” while wearing a furry pimp jacket and a Gucci cap that matched the belt on his jeans. The crowd loved him, to say the least. He had us bumping and moshing in minutes. The 45-minute long opener definitely warmed up the crowd.
“We Are the Champions” was the anthem of choice for the duo’s entrance. Once the track ended, a roar erupted from the crowd before “Legend Has It” kicked the set off.
Allow me to interrupt one moment to commend the venue.
Victoria Warehouse is, firstly, very accessible by tram from the city centre and, most importantly, has incredible sound, lighting and staging. It’s honestly the best small venue I’ve ever been to hands down.
Back to the hustle.
RTJ ran through three of their hits with a giant, golden rendition of their iconic “pistol and fist” over their heads when all of a sudden, between tracks, Killer Mike made an announcement:
“There are three rules at an RTJ show and I see you doing some of these already.
“Number one: If someone wants to get out the crowd, you let ‘em out — I seen that happen a couple time already. Well done.
“Number two: If someone falls over in a mosh pit, we pick ‘em up. We all in it together.
“And number three: We DO NOT ***** put our hands on women, or men, without their consent.”
The crowd applauded and chanted “RTJ” at the top of their voices before being shushed by El-P.
“That’s right,” he said. “If we see you doing that shit, we will get in there and punch you in your motherfuckin’ face.” The quip prompted another roar from the fans. They then made an example when Mike pinched El-P’s bum jokingly, after which he explained that he’s cool with that because they’re friends and they trust each other to jest in this manner.
This is a beautiful sight to see in hip-hop. It’s not easy to take a stand for the right thing in industry plagued with sexism, misogyny, and sexual harassment but the self-named murderous pair always take a stand against all issues in favour of all righteous people.
The evening raged on with perfectly executed raps accompanied by skits during songs. For example, they’d pretend to perform body searches on each other or stand back to back like the bad asses they are. El-P blessed us with some spoken word poetry and Mike almost moved us all to tears with a touching speech in dedication of his mother who passed away last year. Run The Jewels were definitely ‘Live from the Warehouse”.
Overall, the incredible opener by Danny Brown set a high bar that was flawlessly smashed by the dangerous duo with their fast raps, lyrical prowess, bouncy beats, and charming interactions with the room. Dare I say it, this may be the most fun I have ever had at a live show to date.