“UK! We’re here to fuck. Crap. If there was any doubt about how excited Run The Jewels are to have their first non-festival gig in the UK in almost five years, there isn’t now. From the second time Killer Mike and El-P jump on stage and DJ Trackstar drops Rage Against The Machines frontman Zack De La Rocha’s looped opening line of Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck), Brixton Academy becomes a teeming mass from Boppen, dancing and moshing bodies.

It’s been almost two years to the day since modern hip-hop’s most enduring duo released their riotous fourth LP, RTJ4, which was released just over a week after the murder of George Floyd, which sparked the exploding Black Lives Matter movement had doused petrol and sparked angry protests around the world. It was a particularly timely and relevant release back then: a career-high collection of astute diatribes against racism, police brutality and corrupt power structures, backed by innovative beats and the kind of driving energy that have made Run The Jewels their calling card.

As El-P later points out, tonight is the band’s first “membership present” since the album’s release, and everything is being exploited to give the LP proper exposure. No fewer than nine tracks from RTJ4 make their UK debut, and every single one of them lands like a nail bomb, drawing thousands in attendance to scream along to lyrics that resonate as much today as they did in 2020 – never more than Mike’s “I can not breathe” -Line on Walking In The Snow. Musically, the newer songs sound huge too, with the prodigy-aping Goonies Vs. ET and the off-kilter daze of Ooh La La being explicit highlights, evoking the largest shouts of the evening.

It’s all delivered with such a critical sense of enjoyable and zeal that even when the 2 get critical – like Mike’s pause to remind everybody that we must always all unite in opposition to those that abuse energy, or El-P’s declaration that the lads within the crowd ought to maintain their arms to themselves – it is performed in a manner that encourages reasonably than undermines the positivity permeating the set. That’s why Run The Jewels are such a certain hit at festivals; They may simply as simply be enjoying a rock-oriented fest like Download as they might be enjoying an all-comers occasion like Glasto.

Whether it is the emotional heaviness of the lyrics, the irresistible pull of the music, or the sheer blissful power coursing by the venue, this present offers an actual sense of liberation. Mike and El-P’s particular person standing in hip-hop was secured earlier than they got here collectively for his or her most well-known collaboration, however with RTJ4 they reaffirmed themselves as one in every of rap’s most necessary voices. Tonight at Brixton Academy, they reminded everybody why they proceed to be one in every of music’s most necessary dwell bands.

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