Run the Jewels “Run ‘Em” at Marathon Music Works

The best friends of hip-hop come to Nashville

Photo provided by Fred von Lohmann

On Tuesday, January 17th, Killer Mike and El-P came to Marathon Music Works in the form of their massively popular rap duo Run the Jewels. Touring to support their newly released album Run the Jewels 3, the seasoned emcees dished out an unforgettable set.

First up on the night’s billing was DJ Nick Hook, who warmed up the crowd playing classic hip-hop favorites before bringing out the young rapper Cuz, an up-and-comer who has previously appeared on Run the Jewels single “Bust No Moves.” Cuz played several of his own songs, gave out his cell phone number to the audience, then disappeared backstage.

Memphis rapper Gangsta Boo came out next. As a female rapper in a male-dominated genre, Gansta Boo has generally had the odds stacked against her throughout her twenty-two year career, but she has still managed to collaborate with giants like Eminem, Outkast, and of course Run the Jewels. Her short set showed competent skill and a unique stage charisma. After her came electronic artist The Gaslamp Killer, who delivered a blistering and eclectic set of mixes from behind his laptop, pausing only to make deadpan quips.

After two hours, Run the Jewels finally took the stage, walking out to Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Surrounded by giant inflatable hands from the group’s recurring album artwork, Killer Mike launched into the first verse of “Legend Has It,” a single from Run the Jewels 3. The beat dropped, and the entire sold-out crowd erupted with energy, jumping around like gleeful maniacs all the way through “Legend Has It” and “Call Ticketron.”

The majority of the tracks from Run the Jewels 3 made an appearance during the evening, including “Hey Kids (Bumaya),” “Don’t Get Captured,” and “Stay Gold.” The latter song was preceded with a speech about the “good people” of Nashville, which of course was met with thunderous applause. The duo even brought on two fully gold-painted folks from the crowd onstage, each one armed with a homemade sign of the signature Run the Jewels hands.

Smash singles from the group’s seminal 2014 release Run the Jewels 2 also fit in nicely with the set, including “Blockbuster Night, Part One,” “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),” and “Love Again,” which gave Gangsta Boo another opportunity to shine. Towards the end of the show, the tone became rather political, as El-P gave a blistering monologue condemning Washington as a preamble to “A Report to the Shareholders” and “Down.”

Without a doubt, Run the Jewels shine onstage because of their chemistry. When you watch the way Killer Mike and El-P interact with one another during the self-titled track “Run the Jewels,” the duo’s signature song, you can’t help but feel that they are best friends. Their bromance is contagious, and it makes for an outrageously fun show.

Read our review of Run the Jewels 3 here: