On paper, the idea of two MCs from opposite sides of the country forming a rap supergroup more than a decade into their career doesn’t sound all that plausible. Still, that didn’t stop Killer Mike and El-P, two accomplished indie artists from Atlanta and Brooklyn, respectively, from doing it—and extremely well, at that.
Known collectively as Run The Jewels, Killer Mike and El-P earned instant, near-universal acclaim upon the release of their eponymous debut four years ago, and they haven’t looked back since. With their deft rhyming, knack for social commentary and El-P’s futuristic production, RTJ gained similar critical praise with their sequel albums, Run The Jewels 2 and Run The Jewels 3, solidifying their status as perhaps the most consistently enthralling duo in all of hip-hop.
XXL has chronicled the rise of RTJ since before they were even a group, providing coverage of both Killer Mike and El-P throughout much of their solo careers. Now, they’ve gotten their own XXL Magazine cover, on the 20th anniversary edition, no less. The significance isn’t lost on the duo; both still value being able to hold a magazine in their hands.
“I think that when you talk to artists, especially people from our generation, who grew up collecting, grew up putting things in a place and having them, it’s this tangible piece of art that you own, it’s yours now,” El-P says in RTJ’s XXL 2017 Fall cover story, written by XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten.
He continues, “You can pull it out and it becomes a part of your experience. It’s a part of our experience growing up and wanting to put records out. We’re artists but we love the fine arts, too. Just as much as we love music. If we weren’t musicians we would’ve probably gone into illustration or photography or writing. We would’ve written books. Whatever it was, it’s such a huge part for us of the creative process. Creating something that is gonna be here. Creating something out of your mind that is now physically in the world. So for us, the print magazine is always gonna be really special and important, because it is the extension of that creative dream for us and it’s the thing that inspired us.”
Run The Jewels are just one of the hip-hop acts selected to appear on XXL’s 20 special edition covers. Like Killer Mike and El-P, these rappers have been documented by XXL through the extent of their careers and have always shown love to the brand that helped raise their profiles along the away. RTJ’s fellow cover stars are 50 Cent, the cover king with 15 total XXL covers and a career we’ve been documenting from the start; Diddy, the man who not only reinvented the remix but paved the way for rap moguls; Nicki Minaj, a queen in hip-hop building her own pinkprint in the game; Wiz Khalifa, the cool, calm and collected superstar; Cam’ron, Harlem’s swag connoisseur; Lil Uzi Vert; the face of hip-hop’s new generation; Migos, three rappers who helped redefine the culture; Snoop Dogg, the Doggfather of the game; Pusha T, a success story as a group member, solo artist and record executive; Future, a trendsetting trap god; T.I., rap’s gangsta and gentleman; Fabolous, a highly respected New York MC; Rae Sremmurd, the real crowd-pleasers; Birdman, a No. 1 stunna with a revered empire; Yo Gotti, a testament to tenacity; Gucci Mane, the true comeback kid; Tech N9ne; an independent icon; E-40; hip-hop’s in-the-know uncle; and The Lox, a trinity representing for the streets.
Check out Run The Jewels’ full Fall 2017 cover story here, watch their interview video below and keep it locked to our exclusive 20th anniversary hub for more content coming in honor of XXL‘s 20th anniversary.
See All XXL Magazine 20th Anniversary Covers