First linking up to help out on each others’ solo albums in 2011, Killer Mike and El-P have since become one of the biggest success stories in hip-hop. Both guys have storied histories-- Mike as a member of Atlanta’s Dungeon Family and El as the mastermind behind revolutionary indie label Def Jux-- but working together as Run The Jewels, they’ve reached a wider audience than ever before.
The duo are now three albums into what was originally conceived as a low-stakes, one-off project, but has blossomed into a wildly popular partnership between two newfound best friends. December’s stunning Run The Jewels 3 is their latest offering, and finds them tackling proggier, more ambitious soundscapes.
Ahead of a marathon tour of festivals this summer, RTJ were kind enough to share a playlist with us.
Check that out below, as well as a short bonus interview with El-P.
MERRY JANE: What is your most memorable smoking experience?
EL-P: I don’t quite remember. Wonder why...
If you were a boxer, what song would you come out to?
If you were going to go out guns blazing, what song would you choose to do it to?
Who is your guilty pleasure artist?
What song most reminds you of your childhood?
Which song that you've released means the most to you?
Who has been your favorite artist to work with? What is your dream collaboration?
Killer Mike. My dream collaboration is Prince or David Bowie, sadly.
What advice do you have for your fans who are struggling with this political mess right now?
Don’t let these fuckers convince you that you aren’t free.
How did the whole Marvel collaboration come to happen? You guys have 6 covers right? Are you guys huge comic book fans?
Yes, we both grew up as huge fans of comics. The editor at Marvel was watching his son’s football game and his son scored a touchdown. When he did, all his team broke out into a “run the jewels fast” chant and started throwing up the RTJ hand sign. It made him look into us, and he loved us and made the covers happen.
As far as we know, you guys are label-less at the moment? Are there plans for that to change? How do you guys make it work giving all your albums away for free?
Yeah, we don’t see the need for a traditional label right now. We’ve all been there and done that, and came to the conclusion that there are cooler ways to operate. Giving the music away for free was a way to let our fans know that we are committed to them and that we trusted that if they liked the music they would support us. We still offer the music for sale and it’s sold very well, but we wanted people to hear the music more than we needed them to buy it. Between sales, shows, merch, etc., we make a good living, so I don’t see that model changing any time soon unless someone wants to make us filthy rich with one check, haha.