“Riots work”: Run The Jewels remember Ferguson

Run The Jewels, made up of the dynamic duo Killer Mike and El-P, have made as much of a reputation for themselves as political commentators, as they have for being one of the best rap groups in the world. Killer Mike in particular has repeatedly been a loud, proud voice in the media commentary of racially-charged events in the USA. Last year, Run The Jewels were set to perform in St Louis at the time of the Ferguson riots, incited by the news that policeman Darren Wilson was to receive no further punishment for the death of Michael Brown. Immortalised on video, Mike delivered a passionate, rousing speech to his audience.

In the months since, Mike has given a series of speeches, penned articles and delivered messages through social media on topics including race relations, unrest in Baltimore and the confederate flag.

It is now a full year since unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri. The incident led to an extensive series of devastating riots and further violence throughout the United States. Other hip hop artists including Talib Kweli and Kendrick Lamar have also been vocal about these events, both in their music and in the media.

Now, BBC have put together a special video and short interview with Killer Mike and El-P. The clip starts with footage from Mike’s aforementioned speech in St Louis, before El-P proudly states, “We are your fantasy, utopian representation of race relations in the world.”

“We had the weird, tragic and serendipitous experience of being the only band, when the verdict was coming down in St Louis, to be attempting go get into St Louis, everyone else was driving as fast as they could to get out of St Louis.” says El. “And every word that you’re saying all of a sudden means about a hundred times more than it did the night before. And to see my friend talk on stage, I was crying, it was very powerful.”

“Riots work,” Mike declares. “and I’ve never said that in that way before. I’m an American because of a riot.”

“So when people people say riots don’t work: Ferguson was over 60% a black community, but they had less than 60% representation in politics – far less. Post riots? They have two new black city council members, they have actual advocates in the community now and the police chief retired. So if it was argued that riots worked for Ferguson, abso-fucking-lutely they did.”

It’s a bold and beautiful video that intersperses live footage and their politically charged video clips with their sobering words.