When we last caught the dynamic duo known as Run the Jewels, the group was on their victory lap behind their excellent sophomore album, RTJ2. A little over a year later, El-P and Killer Mike are back at it with a new album (RTJ3) and a new Run the World tour that kicked off earlier last month, and they have somehow managed to soar to even greater heights than their already-impressive previous chapters.
Their show at the Shrine Auditorium could easily be counted as one of the great milestones in the group’s history. The sold-out show drew over 5,000 audience members, all of whom seemed rabidly engaged in the hard-hitting beats and dexterous lyrics that Run the Jewels has enlisted to craft their signature sound. RTJ3 received the lion’s share of the setlist, but you wouldn’t believe that those songs were just a few months old if you were judging by the crowd’s response. As the two rappers (backed by trusty man-behind-the-wheels-of-steel DJ Trackstar) ran through songs like “Legend Has It” and “Call Ticketron,” fans seemed to know all of the songs line-by-line, resulting in some fun call and response and crowd participation.
But the fans weren’t the only ones who were included in the fun. LA shows are known to be star-studded by default, and Run the Jewels brought a slew of their talented collaborators onstage to burn the house down. The first guest was Danny Brown, who is featured on RTJ3 cut “Hey Kids (Bumaye).” Travis Barker hopped on the drums to perform a blistering version of RTJ2 highlight “All Due Respect,” and frequent collaborator BOOTS took to the stage to sing the hook on “Early.” Gangsta Boo (who is opening on the tour along with Gaslamp Killer) also joined RTJ to perform sex jam “Love Again.” Joi Gilliam (best known as a contributor to many classic Dungeon Family cuts) reprised her role on RTJ3 opener “Down” (the final number in the main set).
But guest Zack de la Rocha was the true highlight of the show, joining Run the Jewels for double-shot of onstage adrenaline in the encore for “Kill Your Masters” and “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck).” Run the Jewels is making music that’s the closest thing to Rage Against the Machine as you can get in 2017, so it felt appropriate that the duo would share the stage with one of music’s more aggressively bombastic voices.
It’s hard to predict how Run the Jewels could possibly top their success story with the next installment, but if they’ve proven anything at this point, it’s that they will almost certainly find a way to do it.
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