Ever since it blossomed into a cultural force, hip-hop has been cursed with wandering eyes and interchangeable affections. One minute you’re heralded as the next breakout star in the vein of Mims, Jibbs , and Cassidy, the next you’re persona-non-grata on the charts and etched into the unending pantheon of artists that “fell off.” Elsewhere, there’s the mile-long list of artists that once stood at the top of the proverbial mountain only for their seemingly firm-footing to be swept away.
Plying their trade in a genre where transience is the norm, what the current crop of hip-hop artists should treasure isn’t the breakneck ride of overnight success but the winding road of sustainability. Or better yet, study the allegory of patience and persistence that is Run the Jewels’ journey from tertiary concerns to total world-beaters. Rather than finding fortune early on, Killer Mike and El-P (two MCs from seemingly irreconcilably different backgrounds) hit their commercial stride at an age when most artists are gradually receding from the spotlight.
Both of them first burst onto the scene in the early to mid ’90s, and aspiring rappers that were of a less resilient disposition than Mike (alias Michael Render) or El (the former Company Flow/The Weathermen/Definitive Jux figurehead Jaime Meline) would’ve surrendered to the call of some dreary 9-5 long ago. No matter how much they excelled in their respective strongholds, both artists were burdened with the stigma of being dependable journeymen that catered to their hardcore fanbases alone. Then, in a case of complete happenstance, the two of them were aligned by mutual friend Jason DeMarco and an unbreakable bond was established.