It takes a special kind of musician to not only unite people over music but to unite them for real change. Rap duo Run The Jewels are one of the few groups in any genre contribute so much of themselves towards making our world a little more livable.
One of their biggest campaigns in recent years was the Meow The Jewels project where the band used Kickstarter to fund a version of their RTJ2 album that replaced all the instrumentation on the record with cat samples, completing the look with paw versions of their gun and fist logo. The band far exceeded their needs for the album and donated the remaining profits to charity: $20,000 each to the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner (both fatal victims of police brutality) and the remaining profits, along with all future profits, to the National Lawyers Guild’s Mass Defense Committee, a network of lawyers, legal workers, and law students providing legal support for political activists, protesters and movements for social change.
Killer Mike has given talks both on and off the air on race relations, constructive protest, and police violence, in addition to supporting Bernie Sanders and his egalitarian message. Mike has also launched a barber shop called Graffitis SWAG (Shave, Wash And Groom) to follow his lifelong dream of owning a barber shop, but he hopes to franchise the company with the intention of giving work to unemployed members of the community to move them towards sustainable work lives.
The sense of community the duo has built was palpable when they played Métropolis a few weeks ago, with The Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook and Gangsta Boo along for the ride.
With the blistering opening set from Gangsta Boo and Nick Hook (both collaborators of Run The Jewels) the night was set into full swing, even bringing some fans on stage for a live production jam. The Gaslamp Killer brought his all, blowing minds for his DJ set, opening to cheers on a Childish Gambino cover, mixing in Syrian dance music and even playing a collection of 8bit hip hop covers, twitching and jumping throughout the set as if he was part of the music himself.
It was heartwarming to see each band mention how important they thought Run The Jewels was, not only as musicians, but as activists too, making their entrance to the stage a euphoric moment in itself.
“Talk To Me” set the night off right, with chants of the band’s name ringing through the theatre, only surpassed by the crowd’s attempt to recreate the vocal glitches on “Call Ticketron.” Going to some older tracks the club almost vibrated as they dropped the bass of “Blockbuster Night Pt.1” and “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry,” and yelling out the letter callouts on “Stay Gold.”
Killer Mike and El-P were an unstoppable duo all night, moving under their inflatable logo and making some photogenic group poses throughout. They made a particular note of the ever-growing political significance of their track “Lie, Cheat, Steal” with its very heavy political commentary ringing all too true with a Trump presidency, and fans clearly understood flashing fingers to count out each line along with them.
Keeping the sense of family alive, the band called to the crowd to space out at one point in the night, and reminded the men in the crowd the all too important message: “If there’s a girl in the crowd you like… GIVE HER SOME ROOM, if she’s interested in you, she’ll talk to you, trust me.”
Before launching into their blistering finale, they bought beers for some crowd members to save a potentially drenched beer-server passing through the crowd. They closed the set on “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F***)” for an ending no one would soon forget.