Reporting by Branden Peters
Run the Jewels packs a message in their music, but that isn't Killer Mike and El-P's first objective when they hit the studio. Before anything, the song has to be quality -- and that's exactly the line of thinking RTJ used when approaching "Close Your Eyes (And Count to F--k)" with Zack de la Rocha.
The track made waves when the group's Run the Jewels 2 album was released in October and then got fans talking again when the video was released online last week. The A.G. Rojas-directed clip plays out like a short film and pits a black male civilian against a white police officer in a seemingly never-ending exhausting fight.
It's quite the visual statement.
"We just went in on gut, it was just the feeling of the song. We just approached it like a rap song, just a Run the Jewels song," El-P told MTV News during an interview in Atlanta on Friday.
For Mike, "Close Your Eyes" falls inline with Public Enemy's 1988 classic "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" -- a record where Chuck D. imagines himself as an imprisoned draft dodger who plots to escape.
After he crafted his first line, Mike knew he was on to something.
"Fashion slave, you protested to get in a f--kin' look book/ Everything I scribble's like the anarchist cook book," Killer spits to set it off.
"I knew it was gonna be one of those 'Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos' type records. I knew that record was going to be jamming, and going to be socio-political and it's going to be hard and a punch in the face," he said. "And I'm glad it was, I'm glad it was received that way. And I'm glad that in making the visual we didn't do anything cliche, we didn't revisit old topics and we pushed people to think and have to have a different conversation around it."
El-P acknowledges that Rojas' video took the RTJ track to another level that the duo didn't envision while in the studio. "The movement and the feeling of the song inspired the director to kind of approach it like that and also the times around us," he said.
While, Run the Jewels acknowledge the message, they also are proud that the song is just a good song. "And it's just a jamming record, which is a real prerequisite for making records that edutain," Mike said.