By Jon Fuchs, Music Director
Key Tracks: “Legend Has It,” “Hey Kids (Bumaye),” “2100”
In a time of political division, racial tension and non-stop paranoia, Run the Jewels is the rap group America needs. With two amazing self-titled albums under their belt, the dynamic duo of Killer Mike and El-P have created some of the catchiest, raunchiest and most politically-charged rap anthems of the decade, each filled with enough anger and energy to soundtrack every riot that’ll happen during the Trump administration.
Their past material is delicately put together and emotionally touching as well, with tracks like “Early” and “Lie, Cheat, Steal” providing interesting commentary on subjects like police brutality and systemic corruption. Released this past Christmas (three weeks before the expected release date), Run the Jewels 3 shows the two rappers at their most aggressive and ambitious, with an almost hour-long record that starts and full speed and never stops.
RTJ3 begins with some of the strongest tracks of the rappers’ careers, including “Legend Has It,” “Call Ticketron” and “Hey Kids (Bumaye),” which have their usually intense bars like “I lived half my life to give half my cash to these half-man imps / They got half a heart, they give half a fuck, they got half the guns / I got half an hour, I’ll burn half a pound and I have to run.” The fast-paced deliveries from Mike and El are addicting, only adding excitement to the already adrenaline-rushing beats. The features all over the record, including Danny Brown, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and Kamasi Washington, add a lot of their own styles to an already unique sounding record.
The second half of RTJ3 has a more experimental sound compared to the rest of the duo’s discography, with a lot of the instrumentals having slower, more theatrical styles and the lyrics being more personal. One of the album’s highlights, “Thursday in the Danger Room,” discusses the pain of losing someone close to you, mixed with the slow, emotional saxophone of Kamasi Washington. Similar to “Early” on Run the Jewels 2, “2100” on this record is a slow, politically-moving piece (featuring BOOTS) that provides the listener with an interesting perspective on the terrible 2016 Presidential Election.
Like always, El-P’s production is top-notch, with this record being the best produced record out of the three. The instrumentals are crystal clear and the vocal mixing is very well done, making for one of the freshest-sounding rap albums made in a long time. Highlights instrumentally include the fantastic “Stay Gold” and the strange “Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost),” which are both intense and fast-paced.
RTJ3 is another solid project from Run the Jewels, proving them to be one of the best rap projects out today. It’s good we got this record now, because with the political shitstorm we’re about to get into, we need an album to express the rage so many Americans are feeling right now.