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Music / Run the Jewels

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The Yankee and the Brave

"Me and El-P got time to kill
Got folks to kill, on overkill
He hangin' out the window, I hold the wheel
One black, one white, we shoot to kill"
— "Oh My Darling Don't Cry"

Run the Jewels (also known by the initials RTJ) is a hip-hop super-duo consisting of Brooklyn-based rapper/producer El-P and Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike. The duo's name is taken from a lyric in LL Cool J's "Cheesy Rat Blues".

In 2011, Killer Mike was introduced to El-P by a Cartoon Network executive (of all people). Before Run the Jewels was formed and after the two had met, El-P had produced Mike's 2012 album R.A.P Music and was followed by Killer Mike's appearance on the track "Tougher Colder Killer" from El-P's 2012 album Cancer 4 Cure. Because the two albums were released weeks from each other, the two opted to tour together. The success of that tour eventually led to the formation of Run the Jewels.


  • Run the Jewels (2013)
  • Run the Jewels 2 (2014)
  • Run the Jewels 3 (2016)
  • RTJ4 (2020)

You want these tropes back? CHASE ME!

  • all lowercase letters: The songs in RTJ4 are styled like this.
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "A Christmas Fucking Miracle."
  • Arc Symbol: The group's calling card is an image of two hands: one in the shape of a gun pointing at a closed fist. This appears on every one of their albums.
  • Book Ends: Done with RTJ 4's intro and ending songs "yankee and the brave (ep. 4)" and "a few words for the firing squad (radiation)," both of which contain a portion of a tv-show style outro for a fictional, in-universe show titled, of course, Yankee and the Brave.
  • Curse Cut Short: Done at the end of Verse 6 in "Legend Has It," where the voice of El-P's wife cuts off the tail end of his rather egotistical and vulgar brag with a blunt "Stop."
    You wanna kick it, I'll give you the rocks
    You kiss the wood chipper blade if you bark
    I'm fuckin' magic, in fact I'm a warlock of talk
    I got a unicorn horn for a— (stop)
  • Darker and Edgier: While all of their records have at least one dark song, RTJ 4 is considered to be the darkest of the bunch, as it covers powerful and controversial topics of police brutality and white inaction, and has no fun songs to ease up the tension like the previous three albums. The fact that it was dropped during the numerous Black Lives Matter protests/riots in response to George Floyd's death at the hands of a police officer is just icing on the cake.
  • Either/Or Title: In spades. Examples include: "Hey Kids (Bumaye)", "Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)", "a few words for the firing squad (radiation)", and "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)."
  • Gratuitous French: There's some quick instances of this in some songs. They're made by El-P, generally.
  • Intercourse with You: Occasionally referenced in their songs, but it's especially prominent in "Love Again" off of RTJ 2. Prince Paul's character Chest Rockwell also gets pretty crude on "Twin Hype Back."
  • Mood Whiplash: Done at the end of "a few words for the firing squad (radiation)," transitioning from a melancholy instrumental break after several rather heavy verses to a comedic, tv-show style outro that also serves as a call-back to the album's intro song "yankee and the brave."
  • Mushroom Samba: The subject of Killer Mike's verse on "No Come Down." Referenced in the music video for "yankee and the brave (ep. 4)," and in El-P's second verse in "holy calamafuck."
  • Numbered Sequels: Every single one of their records is the shares the title of their debut record, just with a number next to it.
  • Original Position Fallacy: Discussed on "walking in the snow", which touches on how people who support policies that harm marginalized groups will one day face that same harm if they're in a similar economic or social status.
  • Police Brutality: A very common subject in their music, and what arguably makes the group so popular in the first place. It helps that Killer Mike's father was a cop as well.
  • Remix Album / Silliness Switch: Meow The Jewels, which sees every beat from 2 remade using only sounds made by cats, with the songs re-titled as cat puns (e.g. "Close Your Eyes And Meow To Fluff"). As a parody of crowdfunding rewards, RTJ offered various joke "deluxe editions" of 2 for large sums of money, with the cat remix album being one of the more affordable options at $40,000 - after a fan campaign actually raised well over that amount, the group made the album a reality, releasing it for free and giving the money to charity.
  • Recurring Character: Or rather, Recurring Musician. Rage Against the Machine's Zach de la Rocha has been a guest star on every Run the Jewels album since the second album.