Over the last decade, the unexpected success of Run The Jewels has finally given Killer Mike, and El-P, the platform they deserve. For Mike, there’s nobody he’d rather be going to battle with, and there’s no end to the respect he has for his partner in crime.
The duo were formed on a whim with no great expectations for Run The Jewels would be anything more than a one-off project before they returned to their solo endeavours. Before beginning the duo, both were on the same page after going through an agonising period of turmoil professionally and personally.
At first, El-P was recruited to help produce Mike’s fifth album, R.A.P. Music, and they instantly hit it off. They decided to give it a shot as a duo and ended up stumbling upon more notoriety in twelve months than they’d accumulated across their expansive careers combined.
It was Mike who initiated forming the group. He recalled to Rick Rubin on his Broken Record podcast, “I’m just hopelessly optimistic and I’m a romantic and I knew the first three beats El ever played me that for the rest of my career, this motherfucker’s going to be producing me.”
“I knew the more we did it together, the better the chances of us keeping doing it together was. I was in love,” Mike continued.
There’s nobody in the rap game who Mike would prefer to align himself with than El-P, who he then went on to call “the best rapper/producer on motherfucking earth. And that’s it. Ain’t nothing else to it.”
Killer Mike’s talent was evident before Run The Jewels, but it’s the partnership with El that has taken him to that next level, and the same can be said for his bandmate. While Mike put in devastatingly impressive guest performances on Stankonia and The Blueprint 2, the full potential of the Atlanta stalwart wasn’t unlocked until he began the duo.
Commercial success was never part of their plan when they formed the duo, yet, the ferocious energy transmitted by the pair was so contagious that everybody became consumed into the compelling world of RTJ.
It’s high praise from Mike to say that El-P is the “best rapper/producer” ever, but few are as proficient in both categories as the versatile former Company Flow man who doesn’t have a weakness in his craft.