"If I give up hope, you get another DC sniper"
February 28, 2015 4:14 AM   Subscribe

As deep as my words moved people, if I’d not had him onstage with me I can’t promise you that I would have been strong enough to make it through in the way I did. I wouldn’t have been strong enough to resist the urge to compel people to do something bad, or approve of something violent. But that night, on that stage, a white man, the more privileged in American society, stood in solidarity, silently, stoically, quietly, staunchly, with his friend, as his friend neared physical breakdown because of the pain, and let him know: ‘I’m there.’ That’s a shining example of what I as a man should do for a woman, what I as a straight man should do for gay people, it’s what the tough kid should do to the kid who’s getting bullied around by the fuckass tough kid, you know what I mean?”
In The Guardian, Alexis Petridis interviews Killer Mike and El-P talking about Run the Jewels, their friendship and especially the show they did in Ferguson the night the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.
posted by MartinWisse (22 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
They gave away their second release and still cracked the top 50 saleswise. They had the guts to play St. Louis when others bailed after the Ferguson travesty.It is impossible to overstress how awesome/[important?!] RTJ is/are.
posted by Renoroc at 4:29 AM on February 28, 2015 [18 favorites]


I can't say enough good things about both of their albums, especially this last one. The last track is a heart breaker, and it caps off 40 minutes of scathing, focused anger. I haven't heard anything like it for I don't know how long.

And they're hilarious, which is nice too. This previously linked interview killed me.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:56 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


The bright lights of fuckery stuck in me automatic


I don't like rap. I'm more into hardcore and black metal and Swans. But this album and these two are just miles ahead of every rap I have ever heard.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:02 AM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not sure I really appreciate the DC Sniper reference. The DC Sniper terrorized everyone, and the victims were black, white, Asian and latino.
posted by yarly at 6:40 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


What is there to appreciate? He's not positively comparing himself to the sniper he's saying that's a horrible outcome of suppressed frustration.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:20 AM on February 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Btw from his Wikipedia page:
Killer Mike opened a barbershop with his wife, Shana Render, on November 1, 2011.

I want to invest in this.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:21 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know I talked shit about El-Ps lyrical abilities recently but he's clearly a good dude and I respect what he does a lot. And I'm so glad killer mike is getting the respect he deserves nowadays. I may not think RTJ is musically that amazing but he's a (dareisay) important voice, way outside the confines of genre or music itself. He should have a show on CNN.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:26 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I feel the same. I loathe El-P as a rapper (cf. the "running backwards" line from the article) but I'm crying tears of joy over here. I'm watching my 2yo do the bounce to his mix of Juggle Tings Proper (Madness, Microchips & Hi-Tech War) as a result.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 7:42 AM on February 28, 2015


Just to clarify, although the article and the FPP both refer a show in Ferguson, the performance in question did not take place there, but at the Ready Room, a club in the city of St. Louis that is 15+ miles away from the scene of Mike Brown's death and the protests.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 7:44 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"cf. The field of dicks line" is some weak af sauce reasoning for disliking a rapper of his stature and capability. You basically are writing off Killer Mike too and I wash my hands of it, phooey!
posted by aydeejones at 8:35 AM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


They also did an interview on Sound Opinions recently, which has the benefit of allowing you to hear the banter between them.
posted by polymath at 8:46 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


El-P is a better producer than lyricist for sure, although he has his moments, usually when he's in apocalyptic paranoia mode or talking about his childhood.

Definitely, though, there's a little bit of a jarring transition in, for instance, Crown on RTJ2, where Mike has just given this searing exploration of his guilt about having been a crack dealer, and El-P's half of the song is about what he imagines being a brainwashed as a soldier to commit atrocities is like - no question which half of the song has more emotional impact. But, so much of what makes that song good is the beats, so you can't say El isn't carrying his share of the weight.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:08 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


What is there to appreciate? He's not positively comparing himself to the sniper he's saying that's a horrible outcome of suppressed frustration.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:20 AM on February 28 [2 favorites +] [!]


Well, the DC Sniper was just kind of nuts and had no political goals. The DC Sniper is not the opposite of Martin Luther King Jr. Maybe Nat Turner or Toussaint Louverture.
posted by yarly at 11:09 AM on February 28, 2015


According to John Allen Muhammad's own defense team, the shootings were an elaborate ruse to kill his ex-wife and get his kids back. At some point this "rob liquor stores and kill my ex-wife" plan morphed into the idea that he was going to get extortion money from the US government to set up a utopian community in Canada.

J. A. Muhammad was not the product of racial oppression and injustice. He was not some kind of backlash against white oppression (like Ferguson genuinely was) or someone who had just "given up hope" in the American dream. He was a crazed, deranged rapist and minsogynst who thought violence was the answer to his personal demons.
posted by Avenger at 11:36 AM on February 28, 2015


Potomac, I only got into El-P after I'll Sleep When You're Dead but his lyricism was one of the things that made me a fan. For My Upstairs Neighbor and (the very weird) Habeas Corpses paint a scene and put you in it incredibly well. Was his earlier stuff clunkier or do we just disagree? I'm just curious.
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:40 AM on February 28, 2015


El-P has grown leaps and bounds as a lyricist from his Company Flow days. His stuff used to be a mad rush of syllables that sort of fell over itself a lot. Sometimes it worked but sometimes it didn't.(His early song Dr. Hellno and the Praying Mantis is a good example of it working, but curious folks should know that the song is filthy.)

I think he's a fantastic rapper now. He's not as good as Killer Mike, but very few are. I think Killer Mike inspires El-P to stay on beat more and be a little more edited in his delivery. El-P has a good ear for hard language; I love his verse on Angel Dusters that includes "I don't fuck with your symbolism ... I pluck an eye out a pyramid." That's nice.

But everybody knows the best white rapper associated with Run the Jewels is Despot.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:19 PM on February 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


I only got into El-P after I'll Sleep When You're Dead but his lyricism was one of the things that made me a fan.

Some people just don't like El-P. His pre-RTJ negativity and nastiness drives some people away, and other folks don't like his voice or even flow. I can understand people who don't like his attitude/topics or voice without agreeing, but people who don't like his flow are just confused.

In preview, I agree with Bookhouse...El-P's rapping was generally excellent on his first release, Fantastic Damage. I also agree that Killer Mike is the better rapper, although El-P seems to have tamped down a bit on his more aggressive vocal stylings in RTJ. When it comes to production, however, I don't think El-P can be touched by...anyone.

Also, yeah Despot is awesome so far, but it's a bit early to judge a guy who still hasn't put out an album yet. The guy seems so scatterbrained in interviews that is almost seems like he might never get around to it, which would be a huge shame.
posted by Edgewise at 1:29 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Despot may not have an album out, but he's been rapping for about 10 years.
posted by broken wheelchair at 3:01 PM on February 28, 2015


Indeed. If this doesn't sell you on his legitimacy, it cannot be done: Look Alive. The man is as talented as he is odd.
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:51 PM on February 28, 2015


I'm in love with his verse on this otherwise not great song.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:40 PM on February 28, 2015


I guess I'm just frustrated with the lack of a Despot album, along with the thought that maybe a full-length from him wouldn't deliver on the promise. Believe me, I've seen what there is to see of him on youtube, and I don't need to be convinced of his talent.
posted by Edgewise at 6:48 PM on February 28, 2015


Potomac Avenue: “Btw from his Wikipedia page:
Killer Mike opened a barbershop with his wife, Shana Render, on November 1, 2011.

I want to invest in this.”
You might get your chance.

“Rapper Killer Mike Redefines “SWAG” with Barbershop,” Maurice Garland, Black Enterprise, 30 June 2013

Cf. “Killer Mike: The Opposite of Bullshit,” Chuck Reese, The Bitter Southerner, 2014

P.S. I coulda sworn that I made a post for that Bitter Southerner piece, but I guess I didn't.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:28 PM on March 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


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