TheVine story: “El-P of Run The Jewels: ‘Rap is not a person'”, January 2014

An interview with Run the Jewels’ El-P. It turns out El talks just about as well as he raps. Check out the excerpt below or head to TheVine for the full story.

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Run the Jewels was arguably the best rap album of 2013. Which is odd given that as late as April El-P and Killer Mike hadn’t even told anyone it was coming.

Following on from what essentially amounted to a twin release in mid 2012 with El’s Cancer 4 Cure and Mike’s R.A.P. Music (which El-P produced) – both of which would make many of that year’s best-of lists – and a long series of sold out co-headline shows throughout the United States, the New York and Atlanta MCs respectively decided to formalise their artistic relationship.

Run the Jewels was the result – a vivid illustration of what happens when two smart, thoughtful guys get together and try to out-rap each other, out-joke each other and generally have the time of their lives. It was the release valve after the anger, frustration and paranoia of the duo’s solo albums – the demented 35-minute post-midnight soundtrack to your favourite party.

But as the months ticked by last year, what initially seemed like a brilliant diversion developed a distinct sense of permanence. Such is life when you team up with your best bud and make undeniable rap music.

Now, Run the Jewels is set to head to Australia for Laneway Festival. El-P was down under last year for Jerome Borazio and Danny Rogers’s blue riband boutique event, but looking back that show now feels like an entrée to 2014’s main course. In the meantime, El and Mike together have developed a reputation for a ferocious live show, perfectly cut for a festival environment.

My December interview with El-P, born Jaime Meline, turned out to have queer timing. Just twenty minutes before, we’d both caught the news about Nelson Mandela’s death. It added an oddly poignant note to a conversation about music, relationships, optimism versus despondency, and the state of the world as we head into 2014.


Where are you, Jaime? In New York, I take it?

I am. I’m in Brooklyn right now.

Every interview I’ve read it’s both you and Mike. Are these the first Run the Jewels interviews you’ve done on your own?

We’ve done a couple like this when the schedules don’t quite match up. Mike’s in Atlanta right now. We try to do them together but this time it didn’t work out, I guess.

Does it feel strange doing them on your own?

Ask me that question in five minutes (laughs).

I caught your online interview guidelines yesterday. I’m guessing you’ve been doing a lot of press recently.

(laughs) Yeah, we have. How can you tell? Sometimes you have to gently guide somebody into greatness. I think we’re just here to get the best out of everybody (laughs). Me and Mike in a high and mildly drunk afternoon stupor decided that maybe the world needed a few guidelines.

It’s a product of the internet age, the endless press –

Oh, hey, I’m not complaining about the press at all. We’re lucky to get it. But there are some things that we’ve covered ad nauseam. The story of how we met has been documented at this point, I think.

When you first agreed to produce the entirety of R.A.P. Music, could you see yourself sitting in New York twenty months later talking about touring Australia with Mike as a rap group?

No. Not at all. It wasn’t even an idea yet. It wasn’t something that we came up with really until we were on tour together [in 2012] and having such a great time. Obviously, we did records together. There was ‘Butane’ on R.A.P. Music and we did ‘Tougher Colder Killer’ on my album [Cancer 4 Cure]. We really liked doing those records together and we loved performing them together, which we did when we were co-headlining that tour. And we had such a great time and we were so successful and we had so much fun and we became such good friends that by the time the Run the Jewels idea came along it seemed like we had to. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

For the full article, visit TheVine.

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