Run The Jewels is perhaps best known for their punishing, futuristic boundary pushing in rap world, but on the latest single from their upcoming album, Run The Jewels 4, they look to the genre’s roots. Recruiting Golden Era rap pioneers DJ Premier and Greg Nice, RTJ crafts what El-P calls a “classic jam” with “Ooh La La.” The song samples Gang Starr’s “DWYCK,” which featured Run The Jewels’ rap duo predecessors Nice & Smooth and gets its title from Nice’s line, “Ooohh la la, ah oui oui, I say Muhammad Ali.”
“This is the first time that Run The Jewels had a real budget to clear samples,” El-P joked during a conversation with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe on Beats 1 Radio. “I’ve been plotting on this probably for the last three albums… When we went into this record I was like, ‘Yo, we’re sampling some sh*t.’ I have about three things that are in line and that one right there, you know the pains I went to get that f*cking acapella man? That sh*t is not out there like that.” The record — like the album itself — is inspired by the Golden Era classics that form the foundation of El-P and Killer Mike’s love for hip-hop.
El-P also explains how he got the two hip-hop icons to appear on the record with himself and Mike. “Big shout out to Preemo because he made this whole sh*t happen,” he says. “We just want to thank him because he was super generous with it. We hit him up. We were like, ‘We want you to be a part of this. We want you to do the cuts.’ Through him we hit Greg Nice and Greg Nice loved the record.”
The song was originally El-P’s idea, but according to Mike, “It didn’t take much selling. I’m a Gang Starr die hard. So, when I heard it, was all on… This is the party right before everybody leaves or somebody gets beat up.”
Check out the Zane Lowe interview above and listen to “Ooh La La” in the video up top.