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Run The Jewels run the Jefferson

Rap duo promotes sophomore album with energetic performance in downtown Charlottesville

Run the Jewels’ performance at the Jefferson Theater Sunday, Nov. 2 delivered many of the same things as their sophomore album: a monumental, triumphant punch in the face. Elbows were thrown, beers were spilled and toes were trampled as the crowd instantaneously became a mob the moment rap veterans El-P and Killer Mike came on stage.

The duo quite fittingly opened with Queen classic “We Are the Champions.” Run the Jewels is the music champion of 2014. In a year with only a handful of solid rap releases (YG, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Vince Staples), the album “Run the Jewels 2” is a dazzling, aggressive and unreservedly rare moment in music history.

The sophomore album is reminiscent of Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” and a slew of music critics have preemptively declared it album of the year. Few rap artists achieve this pinnacle of musical transcendence and unrivaled excellence — yet El-P and Killer Mike have managed it only a year-and-a-half after their debut album.

The crowd never ceased jumping as Run the Jewels continued the set with leading singles “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry,” “Blockbuster Night Part 1” and “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F***)” from “RTJ2.” This led into a throwback to early singles such as “36'' Chain” and “Sea Legs” — one of the highlight performances of the night.

The impressive 15-song set included El-P’s “Tougher, Colder Killer” featuring Despot — one of the opening acts — and a few songs which featured guest artists on album, such as Big Boi on “Banana Clipper” and Boots on “Early.” El-P and Killer Mike presented such a dynamic live set, however, that the absence of these artists went largely unnoticed.

The duo wholly commanded the stage, projecting their energy onto the crowd. El-P and Killer Mike have exceptional chemistry, which translated well from studio albums to the live performance — in large part due to their aggressive attitude.

As quickly as the show began, the lights came on and the crowd was swiftly ushered out of the Jefferson. Like in their studio album — which is only 39 minutes long — Run the Jewels succinctly delivered punch after punch without losing the powerfully abrasive, brain-rattling quality which sets them apart.


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