Run the Jewels’ El-P: Prince Proved Musical Rules Are ‘Silly’
"When Prince is one of your big first musical impressions," Run the Jewels' El-P says, "the idea of rules seems silly."
The rapper-producer's argument is framed around Purple Rain, which topped his personal ballot for Rolling Stone's newly revised 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. (The 1984 record came in at No. 8 on the overall ranking, which surveyed musicians, journalists and other music industry professionals.)
"Purple Rain contains the DNA of everything I needed to understand about music," El-P added. "It doesn’t contain rap, but it’s still an amalgamation of everything that set me off."
He enthused about the album's seamless stylistic meld: "It was [Jimi] Hendrix guitar over LinnDrum machines: It was soul, rock, and funk, but also it was other shit that hadn’t been combined before. There’s a reason why people across every genre fuck with Prince: There are ideas in the music that are not re-creatable, but lend themselves to some direction. You could take a fragment of what he was doing and build an entire sound on it. People could make their entire musical careers based on a couple of moments on that record."
"When this came out, it was the first time I had really heard him say anything this directly," El-P said. "['Sign O' the Times'] opened me up a little bit, tuned my brain a little bit more. I started considering a few other things. He’d already taken me this far. When the moment came for him to say, 'Now I need you to listen,' I was right there."
Killer Mike added: "I just thought Prince was about [sex]. As I kid, I picked my place: I picked rap. When rap happened, I didn’t [care] about pop music. Because my world went crazy, from a neighborhood where families had gardens and goats and chickens, and people spoke to each other. Crack ripped through, and it was like Lebanon. I couldn’t make sense of any of that. All I gave a [expletive] about was music that moved me from the perspective of saying that the world is going mad."