““The first one was a warm-up, now let’s burn this motherfucker to the ground,”” Killer Mike exclaimed to the delight of Run the Jewels’ second sold out Metro crowd of the night on Saturday.

Run the Jewels’ meteoric rise has been something to watch in the last year and a half. After dropping their excellent, self-titled debut in 2013, Killer Mike and El-P (real names, Michael Render and Jaime Meline) worked tirelessly to come back with an even greater, more aggressive, and politically charged album than their first, simply known as Run the Jewels 2. 

Their live shows reflect the same energy present throughout their recorded works. Whether it’s Lollapalooza, FYF, or a Saturday night at the Metro– after already performing a full set earlier that day– Killer Mike and El-P bring it every single time.

Run The Jewels Metro

El-P and Killer Mike doing their thing Saturday at the Metro. (Blake Schwarz)

Following impressive performances by openers Ratking and Despot; Run the Jewels took the stage, arms up high, traversing between banners bearing their hip hop house sigil as Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blared over the PA system.

As I noted in my review of their most recent output, these two believe they are the best, the current champions of rap. Matching RTJ2 with a live show as captivating and engaging as a Kanye, Kendrick, or Pusha- T performance makes it nearly impossible to leave them out of that discussion.

Draped in white and red light — the current Run the Jewels aesthetic — El and Mike blew the roof off of the Metro, opening with powerful crowd-pleasers, “Run the Jewels,” and RTJ2 cuts, “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” and “Blockbuster Night Part 1.” The duo’s talents are no more apparent than when they’re on stage; a frenetic onslaught of assonance and rhyme, slicing and dicing through playfully villainous sceneries and political statements. DJ Trackstar, their touring DJ, is making a name for himself as well, backspinning and scratching his turntables like it’s 1987.

The eclectic crowd lost themselves in El-P’s tight, booming production, moving with each bass thud and rapping along with Killer Mike’s boastful baritone. As El spits on ’36” Chain,’ “Bitch we be that shit that’s right/ Light a flare put your thumbs in the air, high five,” while subsequently slapping hands with Mike, it’s easy to see how much fun the two are truly having up there.

They’re nothing but smiles the entire show, even going as far as referring to each other as best friends in between songs. In the audience, you truly feel like you’re witnessing something special: a rap juggernaut whose musical chemistry and on stage presence runs just as deep as their own friendship.

Now all we can do is wait for Run the Jewels 3.


Run the Jewels

Oh My Darling Don’t Cry

Blockbuster Night Part 1

Banana Clipper

36” Chain


Sea Legs

Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)

Tougher Colder Killer

Lie, Cheat, Steal

Pew Pew Pew


All Due Respect

Love Again (Akinyele Back)

Get It

A Christmas Fucking Miracle


Angel Duster

(In-body photo from Blake Schwarz, feature courtesy of Adrian Gonzales)