Living in Los Angeles, one expects to see artists on top of their game. This is where people from all over the world converge to make it big in the entertainment industry, or at very least to have themselves heard. On Wednesday, February 1st, RTJ far exceeded those expectations.
Run the Jewels, for those who do not know, is made up of Atlanta rapper and political activist Killer Mike and underground hip-hop producer extraordinaire El-P. The duo have now released three albums and show no signs of slowing down.
The venue immediately opens up to a lavish, theatre style foyer. Such an elaborate design seemed bit much for an alternative rap group like RTJ, but the mood flips completely in the stage area. There was no seating. No fences blocking of sections of the crowd. Nothing aside from that ideal organized chaos that comes along with a local underground rap concert.
Upon entering the building, the audience was treated to a fiery performance of Gangsta Boo’s classic party anthem ‘Where Dem Dollas At’.
With only two acts left, it was time for the crowd to warm up. Cue the west side hip-hop classics. The crowd erupted into song with the classic Dre/Tupac hit ‘California Love’ and then again with Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’.
With the warm up DJ wrapping up, the stage was set for LA based DJ/producer The Gaslamp Killer. Not only was The Gaslamp Killer set good, but he contended with RTJ.
The DJ took an underground hip-hop canvas, and, using his ancestry as a color palette, painted an extraordinarily unique image. Traditional Turkish strings take the top-line as complex urban bass lines to shake your chest, as well as the earth below your feet. On top of this, the DJ also made a point to groove to every beat like a mad scientist coming to a eureka moment. An interesting character, perfectly flattering an equally unique set.
RTJ started their long awaited set after a short break, and the crowd completely lost it. The underground vibe of the venue was a perfect reflection of the groups attitude. Killer Mike, after opening with ‘RTJ3’ material, even encourages a mosh pit. He conveyed the fact that the RTJ family was just that, and that even in the pit people will watch out for each other.
Their new material definitely brought some heat, but it was ‘Blockbuster Night 1’ that really put the crowd in their fist and gun position. The energy would not dip again until the end of the show. The classics only served as a stepping stone for the incredible stack of features to follow.
Gangsta Boo was expected to show, but then Danny Brown got on stage to perform ‘Hey Kids’. Then Travis Barker stepped up for ‘All Due Respect’. There weren’t many surprised faces when BOOTS took the mic, but peak energy came when Zack de la Rocha closed out the set with ‘Kill Your Masters’ and ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)’
A more ideal list of features are difficult to imagine for an RTJ show. Live drums always take a show to the next level, and Blink-182 fans erupted at the sight of Travis Barker. Detroit based rapper Danny Brown’s appearance was a shock for everybody. A more unusual rapper is hard to come by.
Zach de la Rocha has been drawing high crowd energy since his time in the 90’s with Rage Against The Machine. The most exhausted of us in the crowd felt obligated to muster their remaining energy to dance and mosh.
Aside from a few moments of political ranting, the show was spectacular. Unique openers, the ideal venue, energetic crowd, and spectacular features will make this gig a heavy contender for future RTJ tours.
A special mention definitely goes out to The Gaslamp Killer, who was incredible, and sure to be a heavy up and comer in coming months.