The visible growth of Run The Jewels

While Killer Mike and El-P release their fourth album as rap duo Run The Jewels, we talk to longtime collaborators Tim Saccenti and Nicholas Gazin about how the band's "stick-up" hands logo became one of the best known of the Music world has become emblems

Run The Jewels was founded in 2013 and started life as a collaboration between two rappers in their late 30s, both of whom had spent most of their careers on the periphery of commercial hip-hop. Killer Mike was best known for being a satellite member of Outkast's Dungeon Family collective, while El-P had gained underground recognition with the Company Flow group, along with the creation of the independent rap label Definitive Jux and the release of several solo -Albums.

The duo first worked together on Mike's 2012 album R.A.P. Music. After recognizing their creative chemistry almost immediately, they decided to make it official and Run The Jewels was born (the choice of name was a nod to an LL Cool J track from the 90s). A year later, they dropped their self-titled debut album as a free digital download. At that time, mumble rap began to spread from soundcloud to mainstream, while trap music spawned global superstars like Travis Scott. In this landscape, Run The Jewels' politically conscious, bombastic sound, which relies heavily on the classic hip-hop records with which they grew up, felt clearly out of place.

Perform the Jewels' first album with the first iteration of their distinctive hand logo

Still, the album turned out to be a surprising critical and commercial success, and Mike and El-P's collaboration quickly turned from a casual project into a creative venture that has shaped the last seven years of their lives. The follow-up album Run The Jewels 2 was hailed as one of the best music projects of 2014, leading to appearances at major festivals like Coachella, while with Run The Jewels they won 3 fans around the world, resulting in a one-year world tour. The duo is also known for their detailed approach to building the visual world of Run The Jewels, be it through impressive music videos or self-initiated art exhibitions.