One of the magical things about Run The Jewels, the free-online album that El-P and Killer Mike made together last year, was how sui generis it was — two snarling rap dudes with disparate backgrounds but similar ideas coming together, shutting out all outside influences, and coming up with some of the meanest and funnest and most immediate music they could conjure. That first album only had a couple of outside guests: A verse from Mike’s old OutKast mentor Big Boi, a quick string of absurdist come-ons from De La Soul producer Prince Paul, nothing else. El and Mike have been working on a Run The Jewels follow-up for a whole, and from the looks of things, it won’t be quite so free of outside influence. In fact, a couple of bona fide rock stars might be helping out on it.
As Pitchfork points out, various Instagram accounts have shown Mike and El in the studio with Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack De La Rocha (who I guess is technically a rapper, but come on) and Blink-182 drummer/reality show star Travis Barker. It seems possible that these two guys were just there to hang out and absorb some crushing skronk-rap vibes, but if they are actually appearing on the record, I would not necessarily consider that to be a positive. El isn’t the type of producer who needs live drums on his tracks, and De La Rocha’s history of showing up on rap songs isn’t exactly a distinguished one.
Still, I don’t see any reason not to have absolute faith in El and Mike. These guys get together and magical things happen.