Run the Jewels - Staying Woke on "Run the Jewels 3" - Extended Interview

February 28, 2017 - Run the Jewels 02/28/2017 Views: 70,982

Rappers Killer Mike and El-P of Run the Jewels discuss their album "Run the Jewels 3" and explain why they remixed their music with cat sounds to raise money for charity. (8:29)

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Run the Jewels!

(cheers and applause)

All righty.

Welcome, welcome,welcome, gentlemen.

-How you doing?-Welcome.

-That is quite an ornament.-(laughter)

Is that, like,from the hood of a Rolls Royce?

Is that what that is is?

This is actuallyfrom the Louvre Museum in Paris.

It's The Winged Victoryof Samothrace.

-I got a little culture.-Is that what it is?

-Yeah. -Wow. -This costs,like, four dollars by the way.

It looks likeit's from the hood of a car.

No, it looks expensive,

but it looks likeit's from the hood of a car.


Like, that would be, like,a very rapper thing to do.

You'd be like, "I bought the car

-just 'cause I wantedthe ornament." -Yeah, yeah.

And that does not look expensiveat all.

-Not at all, not at all.-But it's very fashionable.

-I like it. -Thank you so much.Thank you very much.

-Welcome to the show, gentlemen.-Oh, thank you for having us.

-Thanks for having us.-Great to have you here, man.

-So good to have you guys here.-Love, love.

You are doing so well right now.

I mean, you've been blowing upfor a while,

but recently, it feels like Runthe Jewels has hit their stride.

-Yeah. -I mean, you're sellingout more shows than ever before.

-You know, albums are flying offthe... not shelves. -Right.

But you guys are doinga great job.

-Thank you. -The shelves, too.The shelves, too.

We do give our records awayfor free, but we also sell them.

And, um, it's been cool.

It took us 20 yearsand four years.

-(laughter) -Yeah.-NOAH: That's funny.

Where did you get that idea?

Like, how do you wake upand go like,

"You know what?We're not gonna sell music."?

Well, honestly,I ran a record label

for ten years back in the day.

I ran a record label calledDef Jux, and we...

It completely collapsedunder the weight

-of the whole music industry,essentially. -NOAH: Yeah.

People stopped buying, andwe were based on an old model.

And we didn't want to...we didn't want to...

We kind of did the first recordjust as a thank you to our fans.

-We were really thankful thatwe had our solo careers. -Yeah.

We had been working together,and we didn't want

to go through everything,we didn't want

to lookat the first week's sales,

we didn't want to compete.

We just wantedto give something away.

It just occurred to us,it just felt right,

and, um, we wanted to getthe hearts and minds of people.

We didn't want to ask them to...we didn't want to trick them

into buying a recordwith one single,

and, you know, we justdidn't want to play the game.

And-and we released itand we just gave it to everybody

and said, if you like it,support us,

and if you don't, thenthat's fair, you know, like...

-(Noah laughs)-Basically.

He's the short-winded guyin the group.


The, um, the...the music is not just good,

it's also got a message, though.

You know, a lot of your fanshave gravitated to the message,

because it doesn't shy awayfrom being political.

What's interesting is,in a lot of the songs,

you guys would be termed...some people term you as,

-quote-unquote, "woke," right?-Ah.

Yeah. But yet at the same time,it's still, like,

-what many people would considerreal hip-hop. -Absolutely.

-Hmm.-How do you balance the two?


-Marijuana.-Lots of it.

(laughter, shouting)

Lots, lots, lots.

Lots of marijuana.

Is you smoke to go woke?

Or do you... are you woke,then you smoke?

-Yeah.-No one knows anymore, really.

-To be woke is to smoke.-"To be woke is to smoke."

-Yeah. -That's a nice slogan.You should put it on a T-shirt.

-Yeah, I know.-I like that.

No, no, but for real,I mean, as Killer Mike,

-Yeah. -for a lot of people,you came... into the, you know,

into the Zeitgeist as the guyon TV with Bernie Sanders.

-Yeah.-You know, they were like,

-"Who is this guy rolling withBernie Sanders?" -(applause)


That was... that-that wasa big thing that you did.

-Yeah.-The question is, why?

I mean, I understoodat the time, but, like,

but why was thatso important for you?

I'm an American and I lovethis constitution,

-I love this republic and thepotential it stands for, -Yeah.

and I bought the hype.

You know, when we werein grade school,

they preach propaganda to you.

And if you buy itand you believe it,

it's quite a beautiful dream.

So I've been an activistsince I was 15.

My grandmotherwas a devout Democrat,

had marched with Dr. King,

and worked tirelesslyin many elections.

I've been working in elections,

probably, since I wassix years old.

I knew personally, people likeReverend James Orange,

Alice Johnson, uh, Andrew Young.

Like, so I've been mentored bypeople who actually were there.

So it is my responsibilityas an African American,

and as an American, to be a partof the political process.

And when I saw Sanders tweet

that one of the first thingshe would do

was restorethe Voting Rights Act,

when he talked aboutdecriminalizing marijuana,

taking it off the Schedule Onelist, which is something

I thought our former presidentshould have done, too,

considering he's a black maleand we get so caught up

in law enforcementthrough that gateway arrest.

You know, I think that it's timefor one of these presidents

to be brave enoughto de-schedule something

that only got up there becauseof a racist law in 1937, '38,

in which blacksand black jazz musicians

were used as a perennial evil

that were gonna attack whitewomen to get it criminalized

simply becauseour logging industry

had a war going onwith the hemp industry.

So I'm tired of us being a pawnin this wicked game.

I saw a candidatewho I thought represented

not only my community,but the bigger community,

in terms of class,beyond color and culture,

and I rolled with him fiercely.

And I have known I made thecorrect decision post election,

because if you lookat the guy I backed,

he's still out thereon the road,

he's still out therepushing the line,

and he's still out there actingin very local ways.

And that's what I thinkwe all should be doing.

-Shout out to Bernie.-(cheering, applause)

-Yo, you... you're in itfor real. -Yeah.

-I like that.-Yeah.

I like that. Do-do you and Bernie still kick it?

-You guys still hang?-Yeah, I talk to him.

I was with him, like,a month ago at Georgia Tech.

And I talk to him...I try to talk to him

a couple times a month.My wife and I are gonna

go up to Vermont, hang out withhim and his wife and some...

-Oh, nice. That would be dope.-I'm taking the chain.

That would...

-I'll lend you the scarf if youneed it. -Yeah, let's do it.

The, uh, the-the... the albumthat you-you released--

I-I had to ask about... Iwas gonna ask were you smoking?

Now I know you were. Um...

-Backstage. -The...You-you released the remixes

of your second album and,like, all the instrumentals,

you-you replacedwith cat... cat sounds.

Like, when I first heard that,I was like, "Is this...

like, is this legit?"That was you, though.

Yeah, yeah, yeah,we did that stupid (bleep).

Um... (clears throat)Here-Here's the thing--

we made a joke. We were... we...You know, whenever you release

a record, you have to go throughthis thing where you

write down the-the packagesthat the fans can get.

Hey, if you buy this,you get... for this price,

you get the-the album and thesweatshirt and the T-shirt.

-Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.-Buy this T-shirt. -And that...

You know, eventually, youstart... And I as sitting, uh...

high, smoking marijuanaat my kitchen table,

and I was tryingto come up with these things

and I was so bored of myself

and I was so boredof the process

that I started getting stupiderand stupider with the...

with the things. One ofthe things that... You know,

we had things likethe Gordon Ramsey package.

Give us $100,000and we'll just randomly

try and force a restaurantto change its menu. You know?

Or, uh...

(clears throat)And we can... I said, "You know,

"the Meow the Jewels Package--if you give us 40 grand,

"we'll, um... we'll replacethe music with nothing

but cat noises."Of course, I was joking.

I would never (bleep) do that.

And, um, someone starteda Kickstarter campaign...

And then they paid youthe money.

Well, here's the thing,

we-we shut it down at first,

'cause we said,"No, look, we're...

we-we were kidding.We weren't trying to do this."

Um, and then we talkedand we talked to the kid

and we realizedthat there was an opportunity

to do something, um,charitable with it.

Um, and that was the reasonwhy we did it.

We-we gave all of the moneythat we raised to the families

of Mike Brown and Eric Garner,

who were victimsof police brutality.

-And, um...-(cheering and applause)

And, um, you know, it...

And, uh... and we also continuedto give whatever profits

go to that record to, um...

to a group of lawyerswho defend protesters

-who are, you know, tryingto protest. -That's amazing.

-That is really amazing.-So it was about people.

It wasthe stupidest possible thing

that you could do for good,I figured, you know?

-Which is the reason you shoulddo everything. -Exactly.

-Which is the reason youshould do everything. -Exactly.

Be-Before I let you go, uh,

you guys are blowing upon-on the touring scene.

You have your musicthat's out there.

A lot of people want the answerto this question.

They go... People felt likeyou were snubbed for the Grammy

-when it came to your secondalbum. -We were. Absolutely.

Oh, okay. Did you submit?

-Yeah, we were supposed to.-Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. -Oh.

Okay. 'Cause people were like,"Maybe it's because

-you weren't selling it."-But we'll never submit.

-Yeah. We heard people werefighting for us, too. -Sorry.

Shouts out to 9th Wonder.We already fought for us.

-Yeah. -Okay, okay. So that-thatwould... You did submit though.

We coming back next year though.Yeah.

-We did for the second one,yeah. -Run the Jewels 3.

We feel good about the third onethough. We feel good.

-We're gonna do this. -You knowwhat you should do on this one?

Instead of making a-a cat thing,

you should replace, like,all the instrumentals

-with, like, Bernie,Bernie sounds. -Yeah.

Like, just him going...♪ Wa-Wa-Wall Street

♪ Wall Street, Wa-Wa-Wa-Wa

It'll sell. Double platinum,triple platinum.

Thank you so much for comingto the show. I appreciate it.

-El-P. Killer Mike. -Love. Love.-(cheering and applause)

Run the Jewels 3 is currently available


Killer Mike and El-P, everybody!

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