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Run The Jewels Tear Through “Early” Live On Letterman

Run The Jewels Tear Through “Early” Live On Letterman

Run The Jewels Letterman

Run the Jewels–that duo that’s currently ruling so handily over the rap game that they don’t even want your money–brought their punishing beats and dextrous verses to David Letterman’s CBS Late Show last night. Backed by the aching croon of BOOTSEl-P and Killer Mike marched through “Early,” a bittersweet commentary on biased policing, off-balance drug sentences, and the lingering feeling that somebody else is pulling the strings behind the people apparently in charge. The track’s oozing, jagged synth lines and minimalist drums leave a clear open lane for both MCs to spit, and El and Mike rose tall to the occasion, rapping with equal parts confidence and contempt.

Last night Run The Jewels made it clear that the pressure of millions of network TV viewers isn’t nearly enough to keep them from speaking their mind. Who else but Killer Mike could stand at center stage and rap lines like these directly into 2.7 million American households?

As I peered out the window
I could see my other kinfolk and hear my little boy as he screamed As he ran toward the copper begged him not to hurt his momma cause he had her face down on the ground
And I’d be much too weak to ever speak what I seen
But my life changed with that sound

Mike made it clear in multiple interviews this summer that he’s majorly disappointed in America’s over-militarized police and told Okayplayer himself about how Run the Jewels is all about uncovering and attacking “this Orewellian-like future we seem to be spinning into in this country.” And so while most will (re)watch the live Letterman “Early” as just another example of how hard and how strong Mike and El-P can go, hopefully at least a few will pick up on the meaning, along with the menace that fuels Run the Jewels. “Early” is meant to be captivating, meant to be banging, and, yes, meant to be proof of how frightening things have become. You won’t see it in the replay clip, but after the music ended Letterman walked over and gazed at the group’s zombie hands logo, then back at El-P.

“You’re like the undead?” Letterman asked.

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“Very similar,” El replied.

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