This Saturday July 18th, I will be driving down to Portland, Oregon for the 2nd annual Project Pabst music festival. The main draw prompting me to make the 3 1/2 hour drive South? The duo of Atlanta emcee, Michael “Killer Mike” Render and Brooklyn super producer/rapper, Jaime “EL-Producto” Meline, known collectively as Run The Jewels. About the same time that I’ll be getting ushered out of the RTJ photo pit, due to the standard 3 song limit, the opening for a themed group art exhibit paying tribute to the powerhouse hip hop combo will be launching at 63 Bluxome St. Gallery, located 633.58 miles away in San Francisco.
Both Killer Mike — a Dungeon family affiliate who got his first real shine on the Outkast album, Stankonia in 2000 — and EL-P — founding member of the groundbreaking underground 1990s hip hop outfit, Company Flow,, and labelhead of now-defunct, influential indie label, Definitive Jux, throughout the following decade — had both achieved consistent artistic and critical success throughout their careers, but never really managed to gain the widespread attention that they so rightly deserved until dropping their self-titled debut EP as a duo for free download 2 years ago. Last year’s followup (also provided as a free download) only cemented RTJ as the most dynamic, if not the most relevant and “important,” unit in the game, as the RTJ2 album took the #1 spot on multiple “best of’ end of the year album lists. Their crossover appeal has been unparalleled, and their logo, featuring a pair of severed zombie hands (one making a finger gun gesture toward the other, which is clenching a dangling chain) has achieved iconic status. Mike has become a very important and outspoken voice addressing race relations in the wake of the increasing wave of highly publicized police shootings, making appearances on such politically minded programming as CNN, Real Time with Bill Maher, and the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, as well as writing an op-ed piece for Billboard.com, and being invited to lecture at NYU and MIT. A couple of weeks ago, the duo even launched their own radio show on Apple‘s new Beats 1 platform, titled WRTJ. As for the logo, it has infiltrated the comic book world, being integrated into the cover of an issue of Howard The Duck, and on 2 different Deadpool titles. In fact, the logo’s designer, Nick Gazin, was even given the opportunity to illustrate a cover for Deadpools Secret: Secret Wars, himself. Of course, then there’s also the whole Tag The Jewels campaign that we covered last October, which involved aerosol artists from around the world doing murals which featured their own variations of the logo and plastering public spaces around the planet with them.
63 Bluxome‘s upcoming show is very much in the spirit of the group who has continued to do what seemed nearly impossible a few years ago: capturing the attention and inspiring the masses on a grand scale through aggressive, powerful, and uncompromising work that is genuinely innovative, passionate, and dismissive of all bullshit and pop sensibility, while retaining a sense of humor. While videos like “Close Your Eyes (and count to fuck)” and “Early” address heavy subject matter like police brutality and incarceration, projects like Meow The Jewels, which will feature RTJ redone with instrumental tracks composed entirely out of feline samples, reflects the artists’ lighthearted nature and a dedication to enjoying the success that they’ve worked so hard to achieve and appreciate so greatly. From the sample images that we’ve already seen, the contributing artists to the gallery’s Art The Jewels group show pays tribute, while embodying these qualities. Typically, 63 Bluxome exhibits remain on display for a couple of months, although no official end date has been provided to us for this show, at this time. Of course, we recommend hitting this Saturday‘s opening, if possible, but if it isn’t, you still should, hopefully, still have a decent window to catch these works in person.
Check out a selection of preview images for the exhibit below the following event details…
“ART THE JEWELS”
a Run The Jewels tribute show
Saturday, July 18th, 2015
63 Bluxome Street Gallery
63 Bluxome St,
San Francisco, California 941076
The gallery is open from 10 – 5pm from Monday – Friday.
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/398071330376610/
[click images to enlarge]