Killer Mike and El-P were already established figures in hip-hop before teaming up as Run the Jewels in 2013, but the duo's incendiary collaborative output took both artists to new heights in the 2010s. The pair's fiery blend of righteous outrage and aggressive beats grew what was once a casual side project into a chart-topping, festival-headlining act that found fans across a variety of audiences. Atlanta-born Killer Mike (Michael Render) was known for his affiliation with Outkast, and had been featured on their Grammy-winning 2001 song “The Whole World”. He enlisted rapper, producer, and record label head El-P (born Jaime Meline in Brooklyn) to produce his 2012 album R.A.P. Music, and the two bonded, toured together, and decided to form Run the Jewels, named for an LL Cool J lyric. The pair’s first album was released for free in 2013, and featured appearances from Big Boi and Prince Paul. Their second album arrived a year later, and indicated that the group was not just a friendly one-off affair. Armed with a darker sound and a more serious intent, Run the Jewels headed in a grittier direction, as evidenced by a guest spot from Zack de la Rocha, which helped the duo enhance its reputation as a motivated, politically-minded outfit, one potentially prepared to fill the void left by a revolutionary act like Rage Against the Machine. The group appeared at major festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo, and was officially established as a going concern. Run the Jewels 3 debuted as another free download on Christmas Eve 2016, and took the band to the next level of acclaim and notoriety. Featuring guest appearances by jazz star Kamasi Washington, Danny Brown, and a returning de la Rocha, the album made it to Number 13 on the Billboard 200, and hit Number 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Their track “Legend Has It” took on a life of its own when it was featured in the trailer for the blockbuster Marvel film Black Panther. RTJ4 bowed in the highly-politicized climate of 2020, right as tension crested regarding police brutality towards black Americans. The timing made Killer Mike and El-P’s latest into something of a rallying cry to inspire protesters and activists, and effectively encapsulated a chaotic moment of widespread unrest. The album featured another appearance from de la Rocha, making Run the Jewels the only reliable way to hear new performances from the otherwise-reclusive Rage Against the Machine frontman. Other guests included Pharrell Williams, 2 Chainz, DJ Premier, Mavis Staples, and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. RTJ4 debuted at Number 10 on the Billboard 200, and made it to Number 7 on both the R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap Albums charts.