Run The Jewels rocks Austin City Limits’ Season 43

Austin City Limits presents a groundbreaking hour of hip-hop as powerhouse rap duo Run the Jewels make their first appearance on the ACL stage. The pair perform a 14-track set in a rapid-fire, riveting showcase filled with greatest hits and choice cuts from their acclaimed release Run the Jewels 3.

Two veteran rappers, Killer Mike (from Atlanta) and El-P (from Brooklyn), formed Run the Jewels in 2013 to runaway success and much critical acclaim. XXL Magazine calls the unlikely collaborators “partners in rhyme and reason…perhaps the most consistently enthralling duo in all of hip-hop.” Blasting onto the ACL stage, Killer Mike announces, “We’re gonna light this s**t on fire like Willie Nelson would light a joint,” as they break into a titanic rendition of “Talk To Me” from their latest album Run the Jewels 3. The charismatic duo, joined by bandmate DJ Trackstar on turntables, power through the entire hour at a breakneck pace, unleashing furious rhymes without pausing to breathe, backed by a relentless pulse of menacing beats. Run the Jewels’ back and forth is dazzling, spitting out showstopping verses on racism, inner city reality and scathing sociopolitical commentary cut with gallows humor. “I don’t care about what they say about watching TV – I am definitely smarter because of PBS,” declares Mike as the two MCs drop thrilling lyrical smartbombs inspiring the hooked crowd to chant R-T-J! R-T-J!

“Austin City Limits opened the door to hip hop almost 10 years ago when Mos Def performed, and has continued to present groundbreaking rappers like Kendrick Lamar ever since,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “It arguably represents the most popular and relevant musical culture in the world today. Run the Jewels proves you can have fun, entertain, and deliver a compelling message at the same time.”

photo by Scott Newton

A hallmark of Run the Jewels is visceral, expletive-laden performances and El-P cheerfully apologizes to broadcast censors, with Killer Mike admitting “We curse like goddamn sailors, kids!” The performance is edited for broadcast, but an uncensored version will be available for fans on the ACLTV YouTube Channel January 28, following the program’s initial broadcast premiere.

Viewers will also have a chance to go behind the scenes with Run the Jewels in a new installment of ACL: Backstage premiering January 25 on ACLTV’s YouTube Channel. The new 10-part 360-degree VR documentary series offers fans immersive only-in-VR moments straight from the current season. The series, created by SubVRsive and ACL in partnership with Google and sponsored by Apple Music, gives an up-close look at some of Season 43’s most iconic performances and takes viewers backstage to hear from the artists before they step under the lights at Austin City Limits’ famed studio home, ACL Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas and join them onstage with closer-than-front-row seats. ACL: Backstage previously released four episodes featuring Ed Sheeran, Zac Brown Band, Father John Misty, and the Austin City Limits crew in “Unsung Heroes,” and five additional episodes will be released through March. The videos offer a full 360º view that lets fans look up, down, and all around. Completely surrounded by sight and sound, all it takes is the turn of a head, tilt of a phone, or a drag of the mouse to explore the story from every angle. Viewers can watch exclusively on YouTube via web, mobile, or for the best experience, with a Google Daydream View headset via the YouTube VR app. (Note: some language may be NSFW.)

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, click over to YouTube for the related episode of ACL Backstage, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Join us next week for another brand new episode, featuring reunited alt.rock champs LCD Soundsystem.