This Week In History: Run the Jewels Surprise Fans with 3rd Album

December 24, 2016: Killer Mike and El-P surprise fans for the holidays by dropping their highly-anticipated 3rd album early.

After releasing two highly acclaimed albums in 2013 and 2014, Run The Jewels had set the bar incredibly high for their next release. They announced a third RTJ album in January 2015, and on Christmas Eve of 2016 they surprised fans by sharing the album three weeks ahead of its scheduled release date.

While their first two albums established them as one of music’s most compelling and relevant acts, Run the Jewels 3 proved that El-P and Killer Mike’s prolific collaboration showed no signs of running out of steam. “When I started this band, didn’t have no plans, didn’t see no arc,” El-P says on “A Report to the Shareholders”, the album’s closing track. “Just run with the craft, have a couple laughs. Make a buck and dash.”

Perhaps the duo’s free-thinking philosophy has come as a refreshing alternative to the pervasive political chaos of the last several years, but Killer Mike objects to the label of Run the Jewels being a political rap group. “At some point in the future, they’re going to try to label us a political rap group, and that we are not,” he said during the group’s appearance on NPR. “We don’t care what party you belong to, we don’t care who you supported, we don’t care what you’re doing tomorrow politically. We care that socially, every one of you know you are absolutely born free and nothing has a right to interrupt that freedom.”

Run the Jewels 3 gained a massive amount of exposure after its third single “Legend Has It” was featured on the first trailer for Marvel’s Black Panther, which ran during the 2017 NBA Finals. The first trailer for the film was viewed 89 million times in its first 24 hours online, and was tweeted about more than the game on which it aired. The duo continued to take over popular culture with Adult Swim releasing a video for “Oh Mama” featuring Rick and Morty, and the 2017 film Baby Driver featuring several Run The Jewels tracks (and a cameo by Killer Mike.) Shortly after, RTJ released “Mean Demeanor” for the soundtrack of the massively popular video game FIFA 18.

The album hit #1 on the Billboard US Top R&B/Hip-Hop and US Vinyl Albums charts, and charted in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, and across Europe. In October 2018 they released “Let’s Go (The Royal We)” which had been rejected for the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack, but ultimately made it on to the soundtrack for the superhero film Venom. They also confirmed that a Run the Jewels 4 is currently in the works.