Philadelphia, PA – Although El-P and Killer Mike rip apart stages these days as the potent duo Run The Jewels, that wasn’t always the case for the producer-rapper during his time in Company Flow in the late ’90s. During RTJ’s opening tour date stop in Philadelphia this week, El shared a comical story of how his old crew got booed off stage while opening for Beastie Boys.
Some fans might remember that Company Flow, consisting of El, Bigg Jus and Mr. Len, were one of the underground’s biggest acts of the 1990s. Fresh off a European tour and seemingly unpublicized breakup, the trio embarked on powering through a set in 1998 at The Electric Factory, the same venue where RTJ played to a sold-out crowd this past Wednesday (Jan. 11).
“I was like, ‘Have I been here before?’ And I realized, 19 years ago I had been here before, it was with my old crew Company Flow,” said El-P to a cheering crowd. “Company Flow had just come off of a two-month-long winter tour through wonderful, disturbing winter wonderlands like Germany … To add even more pain to that, Company Flow had broken up the day we left for the tour. So we went on the tour for two months … I was frazzled, I was fucked up, my whole crew was fucked up. Everything that I had been building was falling apart. But we got the call while we were on tour: ‘You guys are opening for the Beastie Boys in Philly when you get back.’”
Despite Company Flow’s top-tier distinction among the “backpacker” set, Beastie Boys had broken into the mainstream by the Hello Nasty days of the late ’90s, so it’s possible fans were more excited to sing along to “Intergalactic” than to watch cuts from Funcrusher Plus. The pressure of being the opening act got real when El noted one person in the crowd booing and asking the crew to let the Beasties take the stage, leading El to verbally confront the man. That ended up being a bad idea when others joined the man and booed Company Flow stage left after just three songs.
Recounting the story 19 years later, a good-natured El blamed himself for the brouhaha.
Check out the video of El-P telling the hilarious tale of getting booed off stage in Philly in the clip above. Run The Jewels’ next stop is tonight (Jan. 14) at Cleveland’s House of Blues.