This Saturday, the UW Memorial Union Terrace plays host to one of the most impressive underground hip-hop bills in recent Madison history. Run the Jewels, a duo composed of Atlanta's Killer Mike and Brooklyn's El-P, headline a show that also features Das Racist's Kool A.D. and Despot, a talented MC from Queens. Here is an essential track from each of them to get you prepared for the impending verbal Olympiad.
'Crap Artists' by Despot
The big-voiced, small-statured Despot has been working on his debut album for at least half a decade, including when he was signed to El-P's now-shuttered Definitive Jux label. This blasting track remains one of his few "official" singles. It came out in 2007, but it still sounds like the future.
'Ooh' by Kool A.D.
Even before Das Racist broke up last year, Kool A.D. specialized in making West Coast-leaning solo mixtapes, none finer than 2012's 51. "Ooh" features underground Bay Area duo Main Attrakionz and a breezy, perfect beat by Amaze 88.
'Big Beast' by Killer Mike
After making his debut on Outkast's 2000 classic Stankonia, Killer Mike has had a steady stream of solid LPs. But he didn't move to headlining status until he paired up with El-P, who produced the battering ram otherwise known as 2012's R.A.P. Music. "Big Beast" opens the album like a fight song for a rampaging horde.
'Drones Over BKLYN' by El-P
El-P's 2012 album, Cancer 4 Cure, is a perfect mixture of his electro-futurist beats and his paranoid, knotty rhymes. "Drones Over BKLYN" seems downright prescient in hindsight; over a chaotic beat, El-P imagines military intervention and drones recording his every move.
'Get It' by Run the Jewels
That Killer Mike and El-P would join forces for a full project, with both of them rapping, seemed like a foregone conclusion. They were most of the way there with their 2012 albums. Run the Jewels is one of this year's best records; both MCs spit oft-hilarious tough talk over some of El-P's hardest production work. "Get It" is one highlight of many.