Run the Jewels boasts hypnotic poise

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Photo // Jeff Hawkins


The Fillmore was a booming, full-house on Feb. 11. The show featured opener The Gaslamp Killer and main act, Run the Jewels on their national tour for their new album, Run the Jewels 3.

Comprising of the rap super duo Killer Mike and El-P, Run the Jewels (RTJ) has focused on industrial, hard-hitting tracks in all their past projects, and this sound has been maintained in their current album. Building off society’s current kick drum-driven motif, RTJ built their most commercially successful album, peaking at 13 on the Billboard charts.

With over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, it is no surprise to see how hyped Denver was for The Gaslamp Killer’s performance. The Fillmore began to fill approximately an hour before RTJ took the stage during The Gaslamp Killer’s performance.

This opener provided an intriguing juxtaposition to the main act; with mellow beats grounded in Middle Eastern melodies, he attempted to bridge a societal gap between the diverse crowd. His message of peace wove through tight beats and managed to win over the crowd instantly. He focused more on the music itself through his performance by providing little communication with the crowd during his set. This approach was effective for winning the crowd over. With notable songs “Gammalaser Kill” and “Pathetic Dreams,” Gaslamp gained complete control over the venue.

Once The Gaslamp Killer finished up his set, it became stunningly obvious that RTJ was going to be a different animal entirely. Opening with the rap anthem “Nobody Speak,” the rap power group established a new precedent for the night. The bass-heavy track served as the stylistic cornerstone in which the rest of their set was built. The synergy between Killer Mike and El-P was established in a matter of seconds. Every song of theirs requires that the two rappers share the spotlight, as they share bars, and in almost any other rap group this proves to be problematic. However, RTJ manages to use this differentiation of rapping styles to create a sound that is as hypnotic as it is powerful.

Wearing their trademark all-black get-ups with gold chains, the duo moved through their new album track list like fish through water. The crowd only grew more excited with each passing song; the energy in the Fillmore seemed to possess some exponential energy that could only be achieved by the greatest rap duo in the scene right now. No song captured the essence of this energy better than “Hey Kids (Bumaye).” This track features lyrics like, “Killers of the earth get scared/ You do not get one word/ You do not live for the heard/ Even you living’s absurd,” which makes it come as no surprise that the crowd was so into the show.

These easy-to-memorize, easy-to-yell lyrics are the true secret to Run the Jewels success in mainstream rap. There wasn’t a quiet voice in the crowd, and one might suspect that there will not be one at any of this tour’s shows.

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