Run The Jewels maestro El-P isn’t your archetypal Tom Petty fan on paper, but the widespread appeal of the singer’s mercurial songwriting embedded him into the rapper’s heart despite them creating art, seemingly, on the opposite ends of the musical spectrum.
In truth, the above statement is a disservice to label El-P, real name Jaime Meline, as just one-half of hip-hop super duo Run The Jewels. Over the last decade, he and Killer Mike have been on a fruitful journey together, allowing both men to receive the credit they deserve after grinding for years in the underground scene as indie rappers.
Meline always had respect, but unfortunately, that doesn’t pay the bills, and now he’s finally getting the recognition his talent deserves. Even though he’s a rapper, Tom Petty has been an inspiration to him and an artist he hoped he’d to see perform. Sadly, the singer’s death would rob him of that opportunity.
El-P has a wide musical pallet, and although hip-hop is his bread and butter, Meline has collaborated with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, produced the soundtrack for Capone, and spoke at length about his love for bands like The Beatles. Following Petty’s death in 2017, Meline was beside himself and opened up about his favourite song from The Heartbreakers leader during an interview with Stereogum.
“‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ has to be up there for me,” he explained. “It was my first exposure to Petty as a kid. The production was just such a bop. Heavy break and sitars and this amazing, creepy video with this mysterious guy in sunglasses dressed as the Mad Hatter.”
He continued, “I was fascinated with him from that point on. Beyond that he was one of those people that oozed kindness and humour even from a distance (as it was for most of us). I’d always hoped to see him live someday. Fuck.”
The track in question was a left-field move for Petty and The Heartbreakers, which saw the rocker move into psychedelic territory. Dave Stewart from Eurythmics helped produce the song, and the title came after a night he spent in the company of Stevie Nicks.
In his songbook, Stewart recalled, “I really liked Stevie and she seemed vulnerable and fragile when I was leaving that morning. I was thinking about that and the situation she was in and I started singing, ‘Don’t come around here no more.'”
According to Nicks, the track was supposed to appear on her third album, Rock A Little, but, after she heard Petty deliver vocals on ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’, the Fleetwood Mac singer knew that he was the rightful owner of the song.
For Petty, ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ was experimental and saw him escape his comfort zone by embracing change, with the singer later revealing that Prince inspired him to follow this new direction. Over 30 years on, it still stands up as one of Petty’s finest moments.