Following the cult success of the group’s first two albums, aptly named ‘Run The Jewels 1’ and ‘Run The Jewels 2’, Killer Mike and El-P serve up their latest in a climate of insane elections, police brutality and vacuous music. In this environment could ‘Run The Jewels 3’ be the perfect antidote?
‘Lift up our glasses and watch your palaces burn to ashes. F*cking fascists, who the f*ck are you to give fifty lashes?’
Politics has been a long standing theme of RTJ’s music and it’s here in spades. Tracks like ‘Hey Kids (Bumaye)’ rally the people to destroy the evil and corrupt, while ‘Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)’ succinctly condense the reasoning and justification for rioting.
But its Killer Mike’s affiliations and activism which make ‘Run The Jewels 3’ especially interesting. Both with Bernie Sanders and with the Black Lives Matter movement, Killer Mike has been publicly open with his politics in the last year.
The rapper actually addresses this in ‘A Report to the Shareholders/ Kill Your Masters’. Speaking on his support of Sanders, his heartbreak over the Mothers of the Movement’s pleas for change and his distaste at the media’s reporting of his comments on Hilary Clinton; Killer Mike honestly expresses his experiences.
Run The Jewels have never been shy about smashing the establishment but this album’s message feels far more aggressive. There’s also a lot to be said for Killer Mike’s real life foray into the political sphere not dampening the band’s taste for confrontation. It’s refreshing, authentic and real.
‘RT & J, we the new PB & J. We dropped a classic today’
The same way the album moves seamless from track to track ‘Run The Jewels 3’ also weaves an exploration of mastery into it’s narrative.
Hip Hop has never lacked in showboating rappers but what makes Run The Jewels unique is their delivery. The band has never glorified materialism, focussing instead on their prowess with words. They constantly demonstrate why they are masters. Rather than just talk about their skills they actively show them off throughout ‘Run The Jewels 3’
On ‘Call Ticketron’ Killer Mike encapsulates this perfectly when he raps the below double time (seriously you need to hear this to be believe it):
'I'm the sama lama doo ma lama danger dick'll do your mama. Skeeter with the peeter, never eat her, tell her see ya later. Holla 'bout tomorrow, baby, I ain't got to holler. My Impala pop a pussy, pop a collar.'
There really isn’t a track on the album where the bars aren’t impressive in some way. The content varies from cartoonish to sinister but the wordplay and flow on ‘Run The Jewels 3’ is clever, rhythmic and funny. The holy trinity of bars.
‘Coming soon on a new world tour. Probably play the score for the World War. At the apocalypse, play the encore’
With the bars on point it would be shame if the beats weren’t as bombastic. Fortunately ‘Run The Jewels 3’ doesn’t disappoint. In fact the beats are one of the highlights of the album. They are huge, heavy and explosive.
Rattling 808s and skittering snyths permeate. Samples that vary from jazz to rock, but are always emotive, dangerous and powerful typify the sound of the album. Tracks like ‘Don’t Get Captured’ shake you to the core with their weight but the album’s opener, ‘Down’, glides you into a trance while Killer Mike and El-P state their intent. The beats on ‘Run The Jewels 3’ are their own animal. Shifting, attacking and mellowing when the time’s right.
El-P has always been the stalwart beat maker of the group and this album really sees his beats reach their zenith. On ‘Run the Jewels 3’ El-P’s (and his long-time collaborator Lil Shalamar’s) beats become a fully-fledged “members” of the group.
‘Run The Jewels 3’ smacks you in the face. The newest offering from Killer Mike and El-P is a mighty declaration of revolution and owning your skills. The duo roll dramatically through the album over beats that are alive with energy and power. Their lyrics scathing as ever, their wordplay and flow sharp as a sabre. Between revolution and challenging the corrupt, to being the best at what you do (and proving it); Run The Jewels have crafted an album that isn’t afraid to scream in your face and shake you into action.
This album leaves you with a bloody nose, but it’s cathartic. The album will re-invigorate you. Whether you screw face at the beats or feel the wrath emanating from the lyrics, ‘Run The Jewels 3’ is a supercharged, high octane behemoth that taps into the primal power of aggression and excellence.
Listen to 'Run The Jewels 3':
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