When it comes to Run the Jewels, the rap duo comprised of El-P and Killer Mike, there’s always something to fight against – the system, brown-nosing rappers, systemic oppression, poverty and more. With their aggressive delivery and no-holds-barred lyrics, it’s not hard to listen to Run the Jewels or Run the Jewels 2 and think you can take on the world if you had to.
While you may not be single-handedly fighting against government corruption on a regular basis, chances are there’s still something in your life that you feel the need to fight against. To help you out with that, here’s a list of Run the Jewels songs you can play to get yourself ready to fight back against whatever or whomever you feel is keeping you down.
Note: None of these songs are from Meow the Jewels. Cats are cool and all, but listening to cat purrs before a fight will have the opposite reaction than what we’re going for here.
The first track on Run the Jewels starts off with a pep talk from Killer Mike himself as he channels his inner Rocky. No one has more fight in them than Rocky Balboa, so that’s a pretty good example to go with. If this was the first Run the Jewels track you heard, you knew you were in for something intense.
“Pew Pew Pew”
“Pew Pew Pew” was a bonus track left off of Run the Jewels because it may have lead to riots everyone got it at once. Okay, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic. But Killer Mike’s Grand Theft Auto references and El-P’s offer to write his enemies’ obituaries show they mean business. This is the same kind of confidence and charisma anyone should have before starting a battle they plan to finish. Just make sure you don’t really become CJ from San Andreas and end up on the news.
Killer Mike pulled some Dungeon Family strings for “Banana Clipper” and got an appearance from Big Boi with a guest verse. But that only came after he and El-P dropped multiple verses of their own worth memorizing. This is the kind of song you play in your car on the way to a job interview to make sure you walk in and act like it’s yours to lose. Just think of all of the other job candidates as the famous f*ckboys Killer Mike clearly hates and walk in with the elegance of an elephant.
“Close Your Eyes (and Count to F*ck)”
While the video to “Close Your Eyes” falls into the normally high standard of quality from Run the Jewels, the video is something special. Save for an initial scene showing the group and Zack de la Rocha, the entire visual shows a young man fighting a police officer in the middle of the street just to stop and prepare to do it all again the next day. With the current status of police and civilian relations, this video can be considered a truthful reflection of what many people feel they go through.
In his first verse in “Sea Legs,” El-P covers everything from escaping his own mind and not trusting the hand that feeds him. Killer Mike reminds us that he’s capable of going at it with the best of them while admitting that he sometimes has to fight to maintain his sanity. Not all fights are with someone else, but with ourselves. Run the Jewels can help you prepare for both.
As independent artists, Run the Jewels has a lot to say about the industry. Particularly artists who they feel they sold their souls just to become corporate puppets. To avoid becoming the thing they hate most, Killer Mike and El-P had to spend a considerable amount of time paying their dues and taking the long route to success. While we’re not all rappers, walking the fine line between being genuine and selling out is a constant struggle for many in a variety of areas.
Killer Mike’s verse in “Early” is one you should put on to introduce someone to the political messages that Run the Jewels often touches on in their music. The personal account of police brutality is chilling, to say the least. With the second verse, El-P also explains how he’s fighting to save his soul from a system where things are often incorrectly identified as the truth. Whether or not these are things you feel you battle with, the idea of fighting for one’s soul is a universal one.
Some fights are impulsive and end as soon as they start. But some are a long time in the making after extended periods of conflict. As Killer Mike recounts negative experiences with the authorities – both police and the government – it becomes clear that he’s on the verge of a transition from being a witness to a combatant. This is a moment that everyone comes across before conflict; the moment before they see red, but after they’ve started to realize they may be out of options.
“Job Well Done”
This man said he’s Mike Tyson in the ’80s and ’90s. If thinking about the champ who won almost a dozen fights in less than a minute doesn’t make you think you’re ready for anything, you just may not be ready. The only thing that might be able to help you at that point is a blue-faced, kilt-wearing Mel Gibson speaking from atop a horse.
“All Due Respect”
For those unaware, Run the Jewels is basically a way of saying “Give me everything you got.” The double entendre could also be referring to taking the family jewels, but that may just be a stretch. Either way, it takes some major cojones to run someone for what’s theirs. But that’s not surprising given that “All Due Respect” includes references to the duo going places where even cops won’t go and hunting lions, tigers and… other things. They’ve got the cojones.
“Blockbuster Night, Part 1”
“Blockbuster Night, Part 1” is the kind of song a wrestler would come out to and make their opponent want to leave the ring early. It serves the dual purpose of hyping you up while making whoever you don’t like look small enough in your mind to the point where they barely pose a threat anymore. If they decide to not concede on sight, all you have to do is “Jake the Snake ’em” and “DDT ’em in mausoleums” like Killer Mike.