Atlanta-based culture journalist Maurice Garland took to Twitter yesterday to explain Killer Mike‘s name. “He is a rapper. His name is Michael. He ‘kills’ microphones. Michael + Kills Mics = Killer Mike,” Garland wrote. The etymological breakdown became necessary, because Killer Mike — who with El-P makes up the duo Run the Jewels — has taken on a high profile recently as a commentator about unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, appearing on CNN, writing an op-ed for Billboard and posting a fiery letter on Instagram.
Politics take a back seat on “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” our first full preview of Run the Jewel’s upcoming sophomore album, RTJ2 (due out October 28 via Nas’s Mass Appeal Records). But the origins of Killer Mike’s name are still thoroughly in evidence: “This Run the Jewels is murder, mayhem, melodic music,” he coolly asserts. The Atlanta rapper and his New York-based partner exult in filthy, clever and accurate boasts about their verbal dexterity, backed by an electronic gurgle that suggests they slaughter their computers, too. If there’s irony in using violent imagery as positive slang while also decrying actual violence, this gap between language and reality happens to be where Run the Jewels lives.
As with 2013′s Run the Jewels, the album will be available as a free download, though it’ll also be for sale on CD and vinyl; guests include Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha and Blink-182′s Travis Barker. Listen below.