Look no further than Porter’s Pub to host on-point live hip-hop performances. Last Tuesday, Nov. 11, the University of California, San Diego venue impressed once again with its sold-out show of rap duo Run the Jewels. Run the Jewels consists of two seasoned pros in the game: Killer Mike and El-P. Joined by emcee Despot and rookie trio Ratking, the duo stopped in San Diego for its current tour promoting its new skull-crushing album, “Run the Jewels 2.”
As the lights dimmed, the tour DJ told fans to welcome Killer Mike and El-P on stage by raising up the duo’s iconic “pistol and fist” gesture. Arms quickly rose from the crowd, but they didn’t stay still in the air for long. Immediately after the duo began the intro song “Run the Jewels,” postured hands swayed wild while a mosh pit naturally formed at the center of the venue.
Two songs in and the fans showed no signs of winding down. Before the two went into the third, Killer Mike stopped the commotion to establish some ground rules.
“Take care of each other,” Mike said. “That means, if someone falls, you stop what you’re doing and pick that person back up. And don’t hit any women around you.”
The wild energy continued on high for a few more songs until El-P took a moment to let the crowd to take a breather.
“Alright, everybody, we’re going to slow it down for a bit,” El-P said. And then the DJ cued the cackling beat of “Banana Ripper,” a gritty song that’s far from anyone’s mind as a slow jam.
“We’re just kidding,” El-P said. “We don’t have any slow songs.”
The set featured bruisers upon bruisers, head-bashing anthems to get the crowd riled up. Run the Jewels pulled its tough songs equally from its two records. El-P fans were also in for a treat when he performed his solo cut “Tougher Colder Killer” with featured guests Killer Mike and tourmate Despot.
No other rap group has the hooks to match Run the Jewels. After all, this is a duo whose notable songs include the chants “lie, cheat, steal” and “do dope, f–k hope.” Not only did these packed choruses work great for a call-and-response, they were also the most cathartic phrases the crowd could embrace and shout. The Run the Jewels show proved to be the best place for fans to air out their inner frustration.
However vulgar the lyrics, Killer Mike and El-P didn’t rap expletives simply for the sake of edginess. Compared to its previous album cycle, Run the Jewels recorded music with a more clear social purpose this year. The duo’s call to action played out on stage when the rappers performed “Early.” El-P introduced the song as a commentary against police brutality, and then Killer Mike began to narrate a violent arrest with vivid emotional details. As they went through usual rap show procedure of asking the crowd to put their hands up, the two got fans to gesture with arms up and palms out in the manner of “hands up, don’t shoot.”
After a sincere thanks to the fans, Run the Jewels bowed out with “A Christmas F—king Miracle.” The final song was a rarely performed number reserved for a job well done, El-P said. The two soon exited the stage, only for fans to head out quickly toward the duo’s direction out of the venue. Though the rappers were nowhere to be seen, the fans seemed more than satisfied with the night as they began to discuss immediately about the thrilling show they just experienced.
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