Run The Jewels member El-P was a late adopter of Radiohead, but a chance happening with Kid A during a stay in London would transform his whole outlook on the group. After previously being a Radiohead-denier, the rapper saw the light, and suddenly, the band became a staple of his record collection.
The rapper/producer extraordinaire, real name Jaime Meline, has gained mainstream acclaim alongside Killer Mike in Run The Jewels over the last decade. However, before RTJ was even a pipedream, his musical voyage led Radiohead to fall on his lap in was the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Before his solo career took off, Meline was a member of Company Flow alongside fellow New York rappers Big Jus and Mr Len, who amicably split in 2001. They enjoyed relative success at their peak and toured the UK precisely at the same time as Radiohead released Kid A in 2000.
Although El-P previously didn’t care for anything else he’d heard from their output, Kid A made him reevaluate his stance on Radiohead and admit he was wrong.
“I was in London the day this record dropped,” he told Pitchfork. “I went to the HMV in fucking Piccadilly Circus and was looking for mini-disc releases that I could listen to on my player, and there really weren’t any. And then I saw Kid A. I knew nothing about it. I hadn’t really gotten into Radiohead yet. Honestly I just bought that shit because I was walking to some girl’s apartment and I wanted something to listen to.
“I walked like five miles through the city, by myself, and it couldn’t have been a better day to listen to that album: grey and raining. I listened to it over and over again on this walk. I fell in love with Radiohead based off that record and that experience. On this melancholic, shitty-ass day, I was suddenly listening to this dude who’s basically saying, ‘Hey, it’s a melancholic, shitty-ass life.’ I really felt like I got it.”
Sometimes, timing and circumstance are the two most vital ingredients to make a person fall in love with a record. For Meline, the cold autumnal weather in the English capital was the perfect accompaniment for Kid A. Whenever he presses play on the album, the rapper is reminded of the joy he felt when he first discovered the LP and is transported back to Picadilly Circus.
El-P’s experience is a beautiful feeling that every music lover can relate to. While buying an album on a whim from an artist you weren’t familiar with may seem foreign to Generation Z, who have grown up with every record imaginable at their fingertips, there’s no denying that the same romanticism that derives from falling in love with music in an unexpected place continues to exist in an ever digitalised world, and long may it continue.