What started as a one-off project that quickly evolved into a Grammy-nominated hip-hop super duo, Run the Jewels features the talents of Brooklyn rapper/producer El-P and Atlanta emcee Killer Mike. Atop hard-hitting beats and ominous production, the pair trade aggressive and often wryly comical rhymes, touching upon social issues, life and death, and a heavy dose of chest-thumping bragging. Following their critically acclaimed, underground hit Run the Jewels (2013), they expanded their reach with 2014 crossover breakthrough Run the Jewels 2, which graduated the pair from genre secret to genuine chart presence. Their U.S. R&B/Hip-Hop number one Run the Jewels 3 landed in 2016, helping RTJ become an in-demand headliner for both rap and alternative rock fans.
Formed after El-P produced Killer Mike’s 2012 album, R.A.P. Music, the duo released their debut offering Run the Jewels (Fool’s Gold). Critically popular and with a sizable underground fan base to boot, Run the Jewels quickly garnered national attention. Their sophomore effort, 2014’s Run the Jewels 2, marked the pair’s first appearance on the Billboard 200. RTJ2 featured appearances by Boots, Travis Barker, Gangsta Boo, and Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, who lent his distinctive vocals to the fiery single, “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck).” A crowd-funded remix version of the album — with all the music replaced by samples of meowing cats — was released in 2015 as Meow the Jewels. It featured guest appearances from Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Dan the Automator, and Internet feline sensation Lil Bub. The group ended the year with the single “Rubble Kings (Dynamite on the Street),” released by the Adult Swim label.
In 2016, the duo announced RTJ3, which was set for release in early 2017. However, on Christmas Eve 2016, they unexpectedly uploaded the album as another free download. Featuring appearances by Joi, Trina, Boots, Danny Brown, Tunde Adebimpe, Kamasi Washington, and the return of Zack de la Rocha, RTJ3 debuted in the Billboard Top 20 and topped both the Rap and R&B/Hip-Hop charts. Promoting the effort over the coming years, they headlined multiple festival stages across the globe and joined pop star Lorde on her 2018 Melodrama World Tour. That same year, a collaboration with Danger Mouse and Big Boi, “Chase Me,” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song. ~ David Jeffries & Neil Z. Yeung, Rovi