Whenever I talk to people who are not fans of hip-hop, there’s usually only one rap group they say they like, and it’s always — seriously, always — Run the Jewels. Let’s take a second and try to figure out why. When rappers Killer Mike and El-P teamed up to form the duo in 2013, they decided to release their self-titled debut album for free, which may have encouraged more people than usual to listen to them. The fact that they’re both non-archetypal rappers — read: husky 41-year-olds who have been known to model alongside cats — may also have some significance, but probably not much. Opening up for Jack White at Madison Square Garden in 2015 could have helped them attract some indie-rock acolytes, too. But it’s probably the band’s sound — which marries the complex wordplay indicative of East Coast rap with Atlanta’s notoriously playful and bass-heavy production — and its messages — which revolve largely around political and societal issues — that helped win over the bulk of their non-rap-loving admirers. So remember this the next time you run into Chad, the long-haired barista who loves Devendra Banhart, or Dani, your former coworker with the nose ring and arm tattoos. Ask them to name a rap crew that they like — or at the very least, can tolerate. We bet it’ll be Run the Jewels.
Run the Jewels with the Gaslamp Killer and Gangsta Boo, at 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3, at the Fox Theater. $35; thefoxoakland.com.