Usually, seeing two underground hip hop legends in one night would be an absolute treat, an opportunity to explore both acts expansive and brilliant back catalogues, but this is not how Killer Mike and El-P operate. Within the walls of the Electric Brixton, the duo make it clear that this is instead a celebration of the triumph of a record in ‘Run The Jewels’, as well as a love letter to their own camaraderie.
For two men of their stature, they, of course, make an impressionable entrance; with El-P’s bombastic Justin Bieber remix signalling their arrival. Flanked by master beat-dropper DJ Trackstar, they perform their debut in its entirety (with the omission of ‘Twin Hype Back’), with the live setting seeing El-P’s bass infected dystopian productions propelling the duos flawless flows to the level of rap deities. If Yeezy and Eminem were to witness Run The Jewels live, even they would reconsider their delusions of divinity.
Mike’s uncoordinated dancing and deliberately uncool poses certainly certifies his claim that he moves with the elegance of an African elephant. These splashes of comedy (such as El-P’s intoxicated wit and Trackstar’s ’Peter Andre 3000’ t-shirt) adds yet another layer of amusement to an already thrilling show.
They are both audacious performers; constantly confronting each other in competition, even with their affection for each other made incredibly obvious throughout. However, El-P’s relationship with the crowd is mostly volatile, as he soon grows tired of constant demands for deeper cuts from his back catalogue. He feigns a request section and then destroys fan hope by sarcastically quipping, “I am a dancing man”. This leads into an acapella version of his Company Flow track ‘Patriotism’, which is performed with such mesmerising passion that he threatens to usurp Mike for the first and only time that night.
However, Mike soon proves he can evenly match El-P, through a conclusion of political rebellion. Mike relates the British crowd’s hatred of Margaret Thatcher to his own experiences with Ronald Reagan, leading to a stripped down version of ‘Reagan’ in which he aggressively inspires American/British political synergy through venomous chants of “Fuck Ronald Reagan”.
Despite the brevity, the show proves all it has to, by demonstrating how perfect the combination of Killer Mike and El-P is – even if it ain’t healthy.
Words by Connor Cass