By Yasmine Shemesh
“Killer Mike has worked with huge acts like Outkast and El-P has been in the underground scene for like, 20 fucking years,” a girl standing behind me gushed. Excitement was running high at the Biltmore Cabaret for a sold-out Tuesday night bill headed up by Run the Jewels, the collaborative project of hip-hop heavyweights El-P and Killer Mike. The duo has been touring North America in support of their anticipated album, Run the Jewels 2, the follow-up to last year’s massively successful debut.
Fellow collaborative outfit Eligh & Amp Live (of Living Legends and Zion I, respectively) warmed the audience up in an energetic performance that included cuts from their inaugural record,Therapy at 3. Eligh’s impressive spitfire-style delivery was symbiotic to the sonic production of quiet genius Amp Live, who, at one point, took centre stage with his MPC guitar for a blistering solo.
Walking out to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” wasn’t an empty boast. El-P and Killer Mike dove right into Run the Jewels’ title track and spanned most of the album in a playful and riotous set that showcased their veteran talents and drove the audience into frenzy. The pair’s chemistry was in perfect balance with El-P spitting manically from atop a speaker as Killer Mike got in the crowd’s face with his furious, smooth flow. Sing-a-long tracks like “DDFH” and “Sea Legs” incited chanting and moshing, and even though they were getting crushed from behind, the dedicated front row barely broke their smiles. The end of the night provided a taste of what’s to come with an encore of new number “Blockbuster Night Part 1” that had wry lyrics and dirty bass that left intestines rumbling. Fans, hold your breath for Run The Jewels 2 — you’re in for something big.
Published in print and online at www.beatroute.ca, August 2014