Walking onto the stage in Auckland on Monday, MC-slash-producer El-P needed some sleep.
Two hours earlier, he'd stepped off a plane to New Zealand for the first time, after flying for 24 hours straight.
He raced through customs to Silo Park, met up with Killer Mike, the other half of the Run The Jewels rap duo, and shook himself out ready to perform.
You could forgive him for feeling off his A-game.
But by his own reckoning, the set the pair performed at the annual Laneway festival turned out "amazing".
"It was crazy," he says, a few hours later.
"Everyone knew the lyrics and was freaking out the whole time."
For a group that's been together for less than a year, fans have caught on hard and fast.
Both men have found success as solo acts, veterans of the hip-hop scene.
But the recent collaboration between the two has proven electric, producing a critically acclaimed eponymous album under the Run The Jewels moniker and a loyal fan base that drew the 38-year-olds Down Under.
Audiences in New Zealand were shouting back verses that home crowds in the States never have, Killer Mike says.
"We know we're going to put on a good show, but those special moments when the audience becomes a third member of the group, that's when it's dope."
The double MC pairing was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Longtime friends, the idea for Run The Jewels was to have a little bit of fun and produce a mixtape free to download for fans.
The album quickly blew up.
The plan was never to produce more than just one record, but it's undeniable chemistry.
The two began performing together and they're not looking back.
"We can't stop this thing. It would be a disservice to our personal lives," El-P says.
Both started their careers in groups, before striking out on their own and eventually gravitating towards each other.
Being older, feeling more grounded in the music, makes coming into a collaboration easier, El-P says.
"We're in a groove."
"We spent a long time doing a lot of different music and it's all-important to us, but we just happened to sort of simultaneously hit a groove at the same time and it's in no small part due to each other."
"You already know who you are. You're already comfortable, you know you're ego's faults and advantages. You check your ego at the door and you get in the room and make music," Killer Mike says.
"Now, it's easy to sit down with a writer, with a producer (like El-P), who knows who he is.
"Your experimentation becomes something purposeful."
A second album is in the works, and while it's early days, Killer Mike says expect a louder, harder, darker, angrier, funnier record.
"It's going to be whatever our friendship is at the moment, whatever our weird minds clash and come up with," El-P says.
"That's what I love about doing Run the Jewels. There is no lofty goal here.
"But we love the collaboration and something magical happens when we bounce off each other ... So I think we're going to listen to our guts and not really think about it."
Killer Mike agrees.
"You don't f... up a good formula," he says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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