Killer Mike’s emotional soliloquy on police brutality starts St. Louis show with a heavy dose of real

killer-mikePhotos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

As El-P has pointed out on twitter today, “far as I can tell me and my squad are the only Motherfuckers who fought tooth and nail to get IN to STL Last night.”

Run the Jewels, the dynamic duo of El-P and Killer Mike, are the closest thing America has to some form of political protest in music these days, so it’s only appropriate that one of the biggest breakthrough acts of the year would be performing in St. Louis mere hours after the Ferguson grand jury decided to not charge Michael Brown’s killer, policeman Darren Wilson, with murder.

So as rioting began in nearby Ferguson, and before the National Guard was sent into Missouri, Michael Render took the stage to deliver one of his most powerful speeches ever:

“It’s not about race, it’s not about class it is not about color — it is about what they killed him for. It is about poverty, it is about greed & it is about the war machine…it’s us against the mother fucking machine.

While this must-see speech isn’t too much of a surprise — Killer Mike has made multiple appearances on cable news outlets in the wake of the Michael Brown tragedy and Ferguson protests and Run the Jewels are on our “best stage banter spewing musicians in live music today” list – the content of Mike’s speech should go down in history as the quintessential reaction to the Grand Jury not indicting policeman Darren Wilson for murder. There’s anger, passion and lust for revenge, but ultimately a call for non-violent protest.

El-P and Killer Mike will be donating the proceeds from the forthcoming Meow The Jewels remix project to the families of Michael Brown and other victims of police brutality.

RELATED: The Unexpected Cult of Run the Jewels
RELATED: 10 most important political protest songs of the last 50 years

Listen to “Ddfh’ for more on Run the Jewels’ take on police brutality.


Meow the Jewels hits 10k in Kickstarter funding

Meow The Jewels

One of our favorite live acts of last (and this) year, Run the Jewels, have been building a media fervor as their next album, RTJ2, inches closer to an October 28th release. Killer Mike has made multiple appearances on cable news outlets in the wake of the Michael Brown tragedy and Ferguson protests, two dope new songs have been released as of late, and as we wait in anticipation for the new record, a genius collection of deluxe package offerings have stolen our hearts.

The bonus packages offered by Run the Jewels this past week have achieved for the duo a free round of viral advertising that might extend into unprecedented territory, while completely staying true to form and style.

If you haven’t checked out the bonus package choices yet, do it for a good laugh at least, but most attention has been given to the 40k bonus offering called “The Meow The Jewels Package”, promising “Run the Jewels will re-record RTJ2 using nothing but cat sounds for music.” Almost immediately, someone from Phoenix, Ariz., started a Kickstarter campaign and accompanying social media channels to crowd-fund the would be project.

Run the Jewels have captured the cultural zeitgeist by opening up their world to all cat-sourced production (Run the Jewels part one only had one cat’s meow.) El-P, whom is the sole producer of Run The Jewels, immediately confirmed that he will make this a reality if the Meow the Jewels Kickstarter total of $45,100 is met. And all the proceeds will go to charity.

Meow The Jewels3

Meow The Jewels hit 10k in funding on Sunday, with 622 total backers. With 36 days left to go (as of September 21st) there’s plenty of time to spread the word and bank small donations like the early days of the Obama campaign (There have been 16 backers whom have given $100 or more and no 1k backers…yet).

For backing Meow The Jewels, a plethora of sick swag is promised in return. Meow The Jewels stickers, “MTJ” branded lighters, shirts, bags of catnip, and final product vinyl signed by Mike and El-P are promised, and for being a 1k donator, you can submit your very own cat’s ridiculous utterances to be worked into the production of Meow The Jewels.

Consider donating today.

Killer Mike and El-P released one of the best albums of 2013 with their self-titled debut, self-producing the entire thing and releasing it as a free download a full year before U2 tried it. It was through the duo’s captivating live performances that word continued to spread about Run the Jewels — and now the guys are ready to catapult to the top tier of rap acts.

Even though cats may be providing all original sources of sound production for an RTJ2 remix album, Run the Jewels is still not for your children.

Meow The Jewels2

With the death of net neutrality, how will music consumption change?


By Mike Frash //

The way the Internet works is about to fundamentally change, unless companies, organizations and people continue to band together in a populist uprising to take on Big Cable. If the Telecom behemoths have their way, the wild, weird open web as we know it is dead.

So how might the death of net neutrality effect the way we consume digital music?

The second battle over net neutrality is heating up, and we the people are losing. A major blow to net neutrality went down last week when a three judge panel unanimously agreed with Verizon’s appeal to 2011 net neutrality regulations that “the FCC did not have the legal authority to enact …”

Within a day, a grassroots conglomeration of 76 major websites and thousands of others organized by Battle For The Net joined forces on September 10th for “Internet Slowdown Day”, building a campaign of awareness around the corporate threat to net neutrality.

On September 10th, over two million people took action, making 312,171 calls, writing 2,332,092 emails and filing 777,364 comments to the FCC, numbers that indicate a successful viral and action-inducing effort. One of the more effective illustrations of the Internet’s possible future came from Join the Fast Lane, a mocked up website that shows what using the Internet might be like soon.

The battle over net neutrality signifies the most important struggle between populism and corporate interest in the age of information. “Team Cable” has the money and K Street influence on their side, but “Team Internet” is able to use their platforms and creativity to make an impactful counter attack.

Visit Battle For The Net and sign their letter to lawmakers — it should take about 20 seconds to complete.


So what will happen to the landscape of digital music consumption if net neutrality is no more?

Rock The Net is an effort from the Future of Music Coalition, which believes “creators must be able to compete on a level technological playing field alongside the biggest companies.” Artists that support Rock The Net include R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, Bob Mould, Calexico, Les Claypool, Rogue Wave, and many more.

In writing about access and innovation for artists, Rock The Net declares, “imagine logging on to your favorite band’s website, only to have it take forever to load on your computer because they couldn’t afford (or didn’t want) to pay a toll to powerful Internet Service Providers. All artists deserve the right to use the Internet to cultivate listeners, and fans deserve to make their own choices of how and where to access legitimate content. That’s why the open Internet must be preserved.”

Is it possible that net neutrality regulation are part of why there are more mega-break out bands now more than ever? Would Imagine Dragons, alt-J, Chvrches, The Lumineers, Disclosure, Sky Ferreira, Capital Cities, and Bastille have all made it as big as they are now without an open Internet?

Streaming music has become the most essential means of listening to music, greatly reducing peer-to-peer piracy. Piracy has been so rampant that many artists stream new albums a week before they are released. Spotify, Beats Music, Pandora, MOG, Rdio, YouTube, Grooveshark and others have become the de facto platform for music consumption.

When these companies are forced to choose the “fast lane” of bandwidth options, you can bet streaming will cost more — all so the elite can get richer. Services that don’t pay ISPs could lose sound quality if they don’t pay to allow users more bandwidth — as Gizmodo pointed out, “… the end of net neutrality would mean striking deals with ISPs if they want to reach consumers, the same way television networks must do with cable companies.”

The absence of net neutrality also means it’s plausible that Big Cable could help decide the victor of the battle for streaming supremacy by taking the most strategic pay-to-play partnership that comes their way.

And if streaming starts to sound worse, has interruptions or gets more expensive, won’t we see a second boom in piracy? Will private bit torrenting networks become even more popular, while a new generation masters IP blocking and online activity masking?

How do you see the future of music without net neutrality?

As corrupt as this whole thing is, it’s not over yet. You can still make your voice heard at the FCC Website, and visit Battle for the Net for more information and tools for your own website.

What is net neutrality?

You might be asking yourself, what exactly is net neutrality and why do I care? Let’s let Jimmy Kimmel, an expert curator in virality, explain:

We are now amidst the second major battle of online businesses & users versus IP & Content Provider Associations. The first major counter-offensive on January 18, 2012 was against proposed legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which were legislation largely funded by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). If passed, these laws would have threatened online freedom of speech and Internet communities. Websites could be outright shut down if one user of a community shared a link to trademarked media.

Virtually all major web-based businesses protested this legislation. Wikipedia went completely dark for the day, only featuring an easy to use widget that helped visitors find the contact details of their representatives in DC. Reddit, WordPress, Mozilla and Flickr conducted prominent information campaigns. Google covered their iconic landing page logo with a censor bar, and a petition at Google recorded over 4.5 million signatures.


Congressional offices were flooded, and the laws being pushed by content provider associations and big cable were tabled, and the power brokers behind the would-be laws had no clue what hit them. But in typical villain style, these groups retreated to their lair to regroup, strategically infiltrating the FCC, to come back with a stronger and final spear to the heart of net neutrality.

The FCC cleared way in April for a two-tiered system, where Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Verizon can charge tech companies for bandwidth priority, creating a
fast lane” for established businesses that can afford it, making it much harder for start ups and small businesses to compete. It’s a sort of caste system that will ultimately mean consumers pay higher prices for online subscriptions and services.

The biggest hurdle for the people and online businesses is the cronyism between the FCC and Telecommunication Corporations. Comcast has spent over 18 million dollars in lobbying over the past year. Law professor and net neutrality expert Susan Crawford has essentially said that “if the FCC tries to save it [net neutrality] … Republicans have sworn to dismantle the FCC.

Then in 2013, President Obama named Tom Wheeler, a former top lobbyist for a consortium of Big Cable behemoths, the current Chairman of the FCC. John Oliver compares this incestual corruption hilariously to “needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”

The semi-fascist possibility of collusion between the governmental agency meant to regulate communications and the cable providers themselves looms over all these proceedings. As Vice pointed out, “The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.”


Five new songs that show Bon Iver’s magnificent, post-rock influence


How influential has Justin Vernon been the past five years?

He put Bon Iver on the backburner after exhaustively touring the group’s second record, but you can’t say the guy hasn’t been busy. Volcano Choir has helped us look inward while touring on Repave, while also getting back to blues roots with The Shouting Matches. Vernon curated a stems remix project with Spotify, sponsored whiskey and is now working with James Blake and of course, Kanye West.

Also in the last five years, Vernon’s influence has spread amongst popular and indie music alike. His hallmark vocal sound mixes falsetto with bass-oscilated auto-tone, all while multi-tracking. It’s a synthetic process that somehow instills auditory pleasure that feels organic.

Consider these five new songs if you’re a fan of Vernon.


1. Coldplay – “Midnight”

Coldplay’s new record Ghost Stories has the obvious radio single that won’t be going away anytime soon in “Magic”, along with the Avicii-assisted radio banger “A Sky Full of Stars”. But “Midnight” was the first song Coldplay chose to release in promoting their return to action.

Many were quick to point out that it sounds just like Bon Iver, and they are pretty much right. Martin’s auto-tuned vocals are slightly multi-tracked, and they soar out into the cheesy cosmos like only Coldplay could do. Imitation is the ultimate source of flattery, right? This song, more than any other, has been the centerpiece of divisiveness in criticizing Coldplay’s latest effort, one that favors wallowing over love instead of the usual stadium anthems.

In the end, this song delivers, minimalist design and all.


2. James Vincent McMorrow – “Cavalier”

“I remember my first love…”, a line of reflective emotion that sticks to the mind like no other this year. Why? Because his voice. Meet the best song of 2014 that is getting no attention. By the time the wave of horns join McMorrow in his magnificent introspection mid-way through, the instrumental stylings of Bon Iver begin to bubble up. But pay no mind to this as a possible copycat scenario – just check out James Vincent McMorrow’s Post Tropical inspiration to see for yourself.


3. Ben Khan – “Youth”

First the synth hits, then the wailing guitar takes over, as if calling out to the distance. Then Ben Khan announces himself with cooing ease, and the vocal reverb and tone of Vernon starts to sound familiar. Wait for it….BAM! The song takes off with a screech-blast à la Solange’s “Losing You” combined with the ca-ching! from M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” mixed in with a barrage of pleasurable sounds. Ben Khan’s four-track LP 1992 is out now, but the real question is, what’s next?


4. S. Carey – “Fire-scene”

This pick is a tad obvious, since Sean Carey is actually in Bon Iver as a percussionist and singer. He’s an integral part of the group, and he’s reemerged on his own this year with his new record, Range of Light. But for fans of Bon Iver, look toward “Fire-scene” to get a sense of what S. Carey has to offer. Sure, the video for the song even looks like the breathtaking short for “Holocene“, and his song-stucture sounds straight out of Eau Claire, but his lyrics are more direct. All that said, Carey shows why he deserves solo attention with his remarkable debut.


5. Daughter“Smother”

Vernon’s influence has impacted beyond the dudes, as is seen with Daughter. She put her spin on “Perth” last year for BBC Radio, mashing it with Hot Chip’s “Ready for the Floor. Since then the impact of the aught’s favorite post-rock behemoth can be heard in Daughters’ original material, especially with “Smother”, off of If You Leave. If you’re a fan of Bon Iver, you likely will dig Daughter too.

What other new songs or artists remind you of Justin Vernon/Bon Iver? Let us know, or call us out…We’ll keep adding good songs to the playlist as long as you’ve got em.

Danny Brown closes out a huge 2013 at Mezzanine


Danny Brown with Flatbush Zombies, Traxamillion
Mezzanine — San Francisco
December 31, 2013

Danny Brown had an amazing 2013, and that is a fact. His release, Old, earned accolades across the board while never letting up a relenting tour schedule that had him crushing stages across the globe. Well, for those who call the Bay Area home, and those traveling to this wonderful city, we are fortunate enough to have this talented MC closing out the year at one of San Francisco’s premier venues, Mezzanine. If a high-energy, sweaty night is what you are looking for to ring in 2014, this is gonna be a good place to start as Brown whips up some serious fun as he hypes the crowd and delivers his infectious rhymes in a truly unique manner (think 21st century O.D.B).

Trust us, this’ll be one helluva party in one of the most raging rooms in the City as Danny Brown works the crowd into a frenzy with standout tracks like “Dip”, “Blunt After Blunt” and “Grown Up”, to name a handful. This Detroit bred artist always has a few tricks up his sleeve, and with NYC’s Flatbush Zombies reppin’ the “Beast Coast” movement spearheaded by Joey Bada$$ and the A$AP crew, anything is possible. Previous collaborations would leave the possibility of Danny joining his support act a very likely action, so do your best to get there early.

Buy tickets before they sell out.

Coachella 2012: Don’t ever look back

Sights & Sounds from Coachella 2012, Weekend one. Aka Cold-chella.