Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Run the Jewels validate hype as hip-hop's most blinding light right now (The Beacham)

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 3:31 PM

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
The anatomy of a musical sensation is a mystical thing that contains – besides basic visceral appeal – all sort of situational intangibles, not all of which are qualitative. Rap juggernaut Run the Jewels (Jan. 23, The Beacham), however, are the 24-karat package.
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
From the beginning, it was a lethal union. Its core pillars, hardcore Outkast associate Killer Mike and alt-rap legend El-P, were each paragons of credibility on their own. Anything that starts off with that much intrinsic firepower is kissed by fortune, at least on paper. But the reality is that, once your eyes adjust from the dazzle, most supergroups don’t quite equal the sum of their parts. All-star games and star-studded casts consistently prove that true chemistry is more alchemy than arithmetic. That’s what makes Run the Jewels rare. They not only deliver pound for pound, but together they actually punch above even their mammoth combined weight. It’s become such an extraordinary and big thing now that their long-established individual identities have become subordinate to their collective one in the very short span of a few years.
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
Across three searing and increasingly focused albums, they’ve honed the combined attack of Killer Mike’s big-boss cadence and El-P’s production genius into the perfect blitzkrieg. Sleek but hard, it’s hardcore power forged by clarified modernist taste into a heat-seeking missile that’s purposeful, locked-in and now as fuck.
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
RTJ’s stage show was a major production with massive lighting rig and props (their signature pistol and fist suspended from the stage rafters). The performance – a torrent of bass, bite and personality – was solid. But there are flashier affairs and more virtuosic performances. What’s truly exceptional, however, is the white-hot fever of their reception, and all was secondary to the force of it.
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
When they took the stage, the grand hall combusted into a jumping inferno and burned like an hour-long detonation. That reaction to their work, the mass shit-losing fanaticism, was the night’s most remarkable and victorious thing.
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
RTJ have total monopoly on the hearts and minds of the cognoscenti, but this isn’t just some cool-kid hipster crush. Under all the hype is pure proof and substance. Though they’ve struck new gold together, these are two artists who’ve grinded in some of the most respectable subterranean frontiers for years. So even more than the headline of a fresh breakout star, this is the story of the great and true underground getting its shining due. It's the kind of cosmically just Cinderella story you wish happened more. Well, there’s no more ascendant and unstoppable act in hip-hop right now. And this locomotive is only gaining in velocity and steam.
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
click to enlarge Run the Jewels at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Run the Jewels at the Beacham
Besides the main event, the well-curated and impressively diverse opening roster mirrored the tradition set on RTJ’s records of an incredibly smart guest list. Collaborators like Cuz and Gangsta Boo (the only woman to ever hold an official post in famed Memphis rap crew Three 6 Mafia) delivered sturdy sets, especially the latter who laid down some of the toughest flow and biggest attitude of the night.
click to enlarge Gangsta Boo at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Gangsta Boo at the Beacham
click to enlarge Cuz at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • Cuz at the Beacham
But the Orlando debut of the Gaslamp Killer was a revelation. The California DJ-producer has a left-field lean and a staggeringly wide palette. From a base of hip-hop and electronic, he sprawls into psych, funk, rock and international. He even went straight nerd by rocking a hip-hop mashup of classic video game music that lit the house.
click to enlarge The Gaslamp Killer at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • The Gaslamp Killer at the Beacham
As scattered as that all sounds, he knows how to kick it harder than his ties to the cerebral L.A. beat scene might suggest, all in a surprising but seamless way that has its own freak logic. When the weirdest act on the bill is the one tasked to get the room up to suitable fever pitch for the hottest act in hip-hop, you know he’s gotta be something special. And it was one of the best, most interesting and electrifying DJ-producer performances seen in a very long time.
click to enlarge The Gaslamp Killer at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • The Gaslamp Killer at the Beacham
Even more, the guy got seriously topical. Coming only two days after the incredible Women’s March on Washington and the hundreds of other allied gatherings across the globe including the robust one here at Lake Eola, the already powerful throb of his set was punctuated with spoken lines like “The future is feminine” and “Feminine energy will save us all.” It was timely, necessary and made for a set that was as revolutionary in spirit as it was in music.
click to enlarge The Gaslamp Killer at the Beacham - CHRIS GAOR
  • Chris Gaor
  • The Gaslamp Killer at the Beacham
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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com


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