RTJ4 will be Run The Jewels’ first LP released on a major label after the two signed a deal with BMG. In an interview with Billboard, El-P and Killer Mike — as well as the team around them — detailed why the duo made the big move following their success as independent artists.
“The truth of the matter is, [Run The Jewels] outgrew our capability to handle it correctly,” El-P explained. “You just have to acknowledge what it is. This is way bigger than we ever expected it to be and I think we’re still amazed by how big it got.”
Manager Amaechi Uziogwe added, “We knew it was time to take a step up. We didn’t hit all of the marks that we set out to hit yet and we realized, at a certain point, you need that sort of [label] muscle behind you.”
El-P and Mike signed a one-off licensing deal with BMG but joined for more than just its artist-friendly terms. Run The Jewels were also enticed by the label’s goal to expand the duo’s reach.
“I want to bring the energy in our music everywhere from Mexico City to Melbourne [and] from southeast Asia to Africa,” Killer Mike told Billboard. “I’m into having partners that understand what I see when I see Run The Jewels. I see a global force. I’m glad that they share that vision with us.”
Mike is no stranger to major labels after releasing his debut album Monster on Columbia Records in 2003. But for his second go-round in the system, Mike has aligned himself with a familiar face for the RTJ global expansion.
“The vast majority of their consumption has happened domestically,” BMG executive Brian Shafton, who previously worked with Run The Jewels at RBC Records, said. “What they were lacking was feet on the ground in multiple territories. BMG has offices around the globe — each gets involved and puts their own unique stamp on it to make it that much more appealing for the territory.”
Run The Jewels 4 is scheduled to drop digitally on June 5. Physical copies of the album have been delayed until September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.