The smooth, hoppy beer is made with Georgia-grown grits and wheat from DaySpring Farms in Danielsville. Released last Friday, fans can find it on tap and in cans at Monday Night’s Atlanta taprooms. It will also be available at The Eastern as the official beer for four consecutive Run the Jewels concerts starting Oct. 2 at the concert venue in the Reynoldstown neighborhood. All proceeds from the sale of the beer during the shows will go to PAWKids.
The big check and the beer are symbolic of unified local support from Atlanta’s entertainment and beverage sectors, and the specific talents of two influential PAWKids board members: Peter Kiley, the brewmaster of Monday Night Brewing, and Atlanta-born Run the Jewels rapper Killer Mike.
Killer Mike is having a busy year. In June, he released his latest solo album “MICHAEL,” and earlier this month he released a deluxe vinyl version, adding four new songs to a project some critics say is the best of his career. He and rap partner El-P, a respected emcee from New York, are touring to celebrate 10 years as a rap outfit, during which time Run the Jewels has released four critically acclaimed albums and performed together around the world.
“I think we’re the most bad-ass rap group of all time. We’re the road warriors of rap,” he says. And the rap star is as passionate about Gates’ work as his own.
“What’s happening at PAWKids and the work LaTonya’s doing is absolutely amazing, and it’s significant to what that community has been my entire life,” he says.
Killer Mike has worked with several nonprofits, and knows the difference extra donations can make, particularly since charities’ grant money is often allocated annually for specific purposes. He hopes the $15,000 helps solve unexpected challenges or supports new opportunities the organization might face in the future.
Kiley learned about PAWKids when he first met Killer Mike years ago, when Monday Night’s second location, The Garage, opened in 2017 on the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail. After being introduced to Killer Mike through a mutual friend who happened to be a fan of Monday Night’s beer, he was advised by the Adamsville native to get involved with the organization and joined the board.
“The reason I’m at this table is because of him,” Kiley says. “Of course, you’ve got to earn trust and do the thing we did, which is actually build an authentic relationship. The fact that it got us here today, the causality is monumental.”
Also printed on RTJX cans is a QR code linked to a page on Run the Jewels’ website, which offers more information on PAWKids and ways to directly support the organization.
Gates says PAWKids was inspired by people who instilled in her the value of working to better her community in her foundational years. “But the thing that drives me is the authentic relationships we have,” she adds.
She founded PAWKids in 2015 with help from Westside churches Paradise Baptist and Atlanta Westside Presbyterian (which is where the PAW acronym comes from), and leads the community organization today with the help of board members like Kiley and Killer Mike. Some of its resources include after-school tutoring and group trips for children, behavioral counseling, health and wellness services, and job training. PAWKids also operates a food pantry called Claudia’s House, which offers food delivery for Zone 1 residents in northwest Atlanta lacking access to transportation.
Gates is proud of her focus on Grove Park, and sees PAWKids as a model for other Atlanta communities to make positive changes within their own neighborhoods. Like Kiley, she believes the organization’s authentic relationships are part of what drives her and PAWKids’ leadership to serve.
“We do three things: community health, community enrichment and a lot of food insecurity community outreach,” Gates said. “Where else is that being done on the block in Atlanta? When we say we’re living out ‘Buckhead to Bankhead,’ I haven’t seen anyone doing it the way we are.”
As he prepares for the four-night run of RTJ shows next week, Killer Mike said he’s seen the Westside take care of itself for a long time, and it gives him a sense of pride to continue that tradition.
“I’m proud of this beer, but beyond the beer, I’m glad to know that just like good guys who gave me a lot of good advice in front of the liquor store, beer is going to help the community,” he said, with Gates and Kiley both offering a laugh.
“And I’m damn proud to be playing The Eastern for four nights, and that that money finds its way to the Grove Park community to help kids in working-class households. This to me is a lot of hands getting shaken at one time, and that’s the way the Westside has always worked.”
Run the Jewels in concert
Shows are 8 p.m. Oct. 2-5. The Oct. 4-5 shows are sold out. Tickets start at $49.50. The Eastern, 800 Old Flat Shoals Road SE, Atlanta. https://runthejewels.com/pages/shows