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Run the Jewels achieves the perfect balance at Brooklyn Bowl

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Run the Jewels, performing Friday night at Brooklyn Bowl.
Photo: Paul Citone/Kabik Photo Group
Andreas Hale

Four stars

Run the Jewels October 20, Brooklyn Bowl

The second act in the careers of Killer Mike and El-P—better known as Run the Jewels—has been an exhilarating ride from a pair of 40-year-olds toppling the notion that hip-hop is a young man’s game. Three albums and a heaping helping of critical praise into their tenure, Run the Jewels hit Brooklyn Bowl Friday night and brought together an eclectic group of fans who held up the duo’s trademark gun-and-fist hand gesture in anticipation.

It was the calm before the storm, and the storm that followed shook the venue’s foundation. After Killer Mike, El-P and DJ Trackstar hit the stage to Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” they launched into “Talk to Me” from TRJ’s third self-titled record, sending the nearly-sold-out venue into a frenzy. Flashing lights and heavy bass followed, as Run the Jewels rolled into “Legend Has It,” a track that has achieved new life after being featured in the trailer for Marvel’s upcoming Black Panther movie.

“We’ve been looking forward to this one because you guys have been through enough bullsh*t to last a goddamn lifetime,” El-P said, acknowledging the October 1 Harvest 91 mass shooting before launching into another furious tirade of songs including “Don’t Get Captured” and “Oh My Darling.”

Above all, Killer Mike and El-P were personable during their rambunctious set, with El-P offering some tongue-in-cheek poetry about love and Killer Mike lamenting about mental health and the recent passing of his mother—or simply laying down the rules for the show. Everything flowed seamlessly, and the night was filled with personality.

There was no room to breathe between songs or in the congested crowd as Killer Mike and El-P pounded through “Panther Like a Panther,” “Close Your Eyes” and “Sea Legs.” Mike delivered potent rhymes laced with politics, and El-P piggybacked with his unique form of braggadocio. The energy pulsated through the crowd, and by the time RTJ closed the 80-minute rampage with “Angel Duster,” they’d achieved the perfect balance—leaving the crowd fulfilled but wanting a little bit more.

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