We never had any intention of posting this much coverage about Run The Jewels — the rap duo consisting of Atlanta emcee, “Killer Mike” Render and rapper/producer Jaime “EL-Producto” Meline — but the project just keeps pushing out more and more noteworthy and amazing shit and, every time I check my inbox, there’s another press release or email giving me the heads up about it. Granted, we haven’t flooded the site with every single tweet and update related to them, but since we typically just like to focus on gradually putting up a heftier “piece” about a single subject before moving on to another one, much more so than blasting out millions of quick blurbs about everything that we see, it really feels like we might be going slightly overboard focusing on this one. That being said, we’re incredibly excited about everything that they’ve being doing, as well as about everything that they represent, and everything that they do tends to demonstrate more and more how relevant this project is to our own interests and to the direction that we’d like to see more artists and projects heading toward in the future. Each time we hear something new from RTJ, it really does feels like an entirely brand new project, all together.
On Thursday night (October 23rd), Run The Jewels officially released their sophomore effort, RTJ2 as a free download, just as they had their critically acclaimed debut. Leading up to it, there was a tremendous buildup, including absurdly over-the-top preorder options, one of which was an all-cat instrumental version that even spawned it’s own kickstarter campaign. This new album shows a markedly different approach regarding EL-P‘s production — I’ve been following this dude’s work since the 90s — yet it still very much reflects EL and his passion and desire to continuously move the artform that he loves so much forward, punching through boxes and forcing it outside of any typical limitations that others might rigidly place on the parameters of hip hop music. I’ve always loved Producto‘s work, but this collaboration continues to build my respect for the lyrical prowess that Killer Mike possess; the man is a goddamn monster, and RTJ2 puts that on display as much as anything that’s come before it. For this release, it feels like they’ve suped up the hoopty Mad Max style and then simply yanked the fucking brakes out. It’s not only exciting what they’re producing, but the energy and momentum that they’re generating behind it makes you feel like jumping in the back seat and holding on until the wheels fall off and this thing goes skidding out, shooting sparks, and crashing through whatever sort of makeshift barricades or structures are assembled and placed in front of it.
Based on the information being sent to us, RTJ2 “racked up almost 200K free downloads in its first 3 days while simultaneously cracking the iTunes Top 10 album charts.” — with the deluxe iTunes edition featuring exclusive bonus track “Blockbuster Night Part 2.” The duo is not only set to perform on the Halloween night episode of Letterman, but they have some other enviable events slated this weekend for those of you who lucky bastards that will be in the New York City area.
Here… read this:
The group will celebrate on October 29th with a takeover of Rough Trade Records in New York, featuring an album play-through, a meet and greet, poster giveaways, and more. The event kicks off at 6:30pm– the first 20 attendees will also get passes to join fellow fans at a private event that night featuring a brief Q&A session with the group and Mass Appeal’s Sacha Jenkins, followed by a screening of perennial NYC classic The Warriors in a 92-seat movie theater. The week will be capped off with a live performance on the Late Show With David Letterman, airing on Halloween. The duo’s world tour kicks off that night…
On top of that, they’ve launched a related project that, pretty much, embodies the entire tone of what we hope to promote here on the site, involving music, art, free access to both, and defying restrictions on how they’re presented.
In conjunction with the album release Run the Jewels have shared Tag The Jewels, a worldwide street art initiative in which over 30 artists across 6 continents were invited to remix the group’s iconic album artwork on walls in Los Angeles, Jakarta, Chicago, Paris, Sao Paolo, Lagos, Aukland, Warsaw, New Delhi, and many more. The project was curated & managed by the FatCap Agency. Photographs of the art pieces can be checked at the project’s website: www.tagthejewels.tumblr.com
When EL-P dissolved his highly influential underground label, Definitive Jux back in early 2010, he stated that he was doing so, so that he could focus more on creating his own art again, without the burden of having to keep a record label breathing and dividing his energy by producing, releasing, and promoting the work of those around him. So far, he’s followed through on that promise, becoming more prolific than he’s ever been in his career. One of his main points at the time was that, although Def Jux made a lot of sense when he initially founded it a decade earlier, he recognized how much the music industry had changed and didn’t see the purpose for a typical record label in the present musical climate. What Run The Jewels is currently doing is helping to redefine what’s possible in these times and how to successfully adapt and navigate through them. Keep in mind folks, this is, by all accounts, a “free” album being offered, yet the quality and promotion is such that the people have responded overwhelmingly to support the artists creating it. The physical options offered for their new release are tremendous and the manner in which RTJ has managed to sweep the masses up into the hype and get them to become so enthusiastic about it is something that I believe that anyone interested in the art of marketing and studying the economics, promotions, and evolution of the music industry should be paying close attention to. Now with the Tag The Jewels “street art initiative,” another symbiotic relationship has been formed, which broadens the dimensionality of the project itself and what the Run The Jewels project truly is. Death Grips expressed their desire to be much more than a “band,” citing their intention to be a much larger art project, before ultimately disbanding, but it honestly feels as if Mike and EL are managing to realize that goal in a far more complete and tangible way. By having artists around the world paint their own representations of the duo’s now iconic logo, these muralists are not only promoting the music, the release, and those that created it, but offering their own free art to the public and impacting the process themselves, in the process. In turn, RTJ is helping these artists find their own audience. Below we have posted all of the images that have been presented up to this point on the Tag The Jewels tumblr, making sure to keep the links provided to the artists/locations underneath them, in an effort to aid in supporting that intention to offer them some deserved visibility.
Run The Jewels does not only operate as a promotion of hip hop by two musicians who believe in the culture so dearly and embrace it so wholeheartedly, but a reminder of what it truly represents. The birth of hip hop culture was revolutionary and based on innovation. If you love it and claim to represent it, then it’s your responsibility to continue it’s advancement — and by “advancement” I mean to move it forward into new territories and present new possibilities of it’s potential, not the perpetuation of a repressive one-dimensional cartoon that the world has become so complicit with. Like any true art, it’s core is based on individuality and the expression of voice, and nobody’s is stronger right now than Jaime Meline and Michael Render‘s. To quote the lead singer of a third-wave ska group-turned fashionista/reality game show host, during her stint appropriating Japanese and hip hop culture, “this shit is bananas.”
Check out these stunning RTJ2 wall pieces below.
[Click images to enlarge]
DILOM Burgas, Bulgaria
JON5 London, United Kingdom
SEAN PENNCILS in New York, New York, UNITED STATES (at Little Fox Cafe)
ARTEZ in Belgrade, SERBIA
SEEONE Brooklyn, New York, UNITED STATES (at Low Brow Artique)
PUTOS Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
LOW BROS Berlin, GERMANY
KID KREOL & BOOGIE Saint-Denis, REUNION ISLAND
HARSH RAMAN New Delhi, INDIA
SEPE Warsaw, POLAND
FROP & MUSO Jeddah, SAOUDI ARABIA
OWEN DIPPIE Mount Maunganui, NEW ZEALAND
KATUN Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
ASHLEY MONTAGUE Portland, Orgeon, UNITED STATES (at Future Shock Records)
BINHO RIBEIRO Sao Paulo, BRAZIL
UDUAK AKPAN SAMUEL Lagos, NIGERIA (with Olubusola Ajayi (photography) and Mrs. Ajayi)
MILA K Sheffield, UNITED KINGDOM (photograpy Chard Remains)
GORELLAUME Paris FRANCE
SWEET DAMAGE CREW (BIEX, CAGE, RECK, SEYR, SATRAN) Bucharest, ROMANIA
JULIEN GUINET Salta, ARGENTINA
MATTHEW DAWN Antwerp, BELGIUM
DASIC FERNANDEZ New York, New York, UNITED STATES
GUS CUTTY (LORDS / CBS) Asheville, North Carolina, UNITED STATES
OZ MONTANIA Asuncion, PARAGUAY
TUTS Jakarta, INDONESIA
310 Marrakech, MOROCCO
OX Sydney, AUSTRALIA
CHASE312 (BASICOLORS) Bishkek city, KYRGYZSTAN
STATIK Chicago, Illinois, UNITED STATES (photography Lisa Shelley)
GAMMAGALLERY Denver, Colorado, UNITED STATES