A book about Run The Jewels by Jaap van der Doelen

Two rappers in the twilight of their careers suddenly find themselves as pop culture icons fighting for change in a world about to fall prey to fascism.

All the unwritten rules of rap say it doesn’t happen like this. And yet, Killer Mike, a Black man from Atlanta, Georgia, and El-P, a white man from Brooklyn, New York, have somehow transformed what should’ve been the twilight of their careers as rappers into the biggest spotlight they’d ever had turned towards them. They headline festivals worldwide, have become action figures, Marvel comic book characters, spearheaded a worldwide countercultural movement and played a significant role in the last two presidential elections.

This is the buddy-movie-like story of how they got there. It takes stock of many key songs in their discography and how they were made, while simultaneously shining a light on the circumstances in which that happened. The result is a tale that not only parallels the incredible changes the music industry has gone through over the past 25 years—charting a course from the highs around the turn of the century, to the collapse of the CD format, and the eventual rise of streaming media—it also maps the evolution of both pop culture and its sociopolitical climate, from the surging popularity of afrofuturism, to the global recognition for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The amount of key moments in modern history they hit along the way is staggering. The fall of the Twin Towers, the kneeling of Colin Kaepernick, the rise of Donald Trump, the death of George Floyd, and much, much more, all tie in to how their budding bromance transformed them from solo artists in underground hiphop, to genuine pop cultural icons recognized all over the globe. Kill Your Masters tells us as much about the world that made Run The Jewels, as it does about how they in turn helped shape that world.

The book is written by Jaap van der Doelen, and is coming out through UGA Press in 2024.