A Bombastic and Heartfelt Letter to the Duo’s Peak at Greatness
Run the Jewels, hip-hop’s tag team composed of Killer Mike and El-P, dropped their third album that blast a Kalashnikov spray at anybody in their way while lending a voice and a megaphone to those left speechless.
The swagger of Brooklyn’s underground and Atlanta’s trap pair like bread and butter for a duo that only know how to raise the bar above the rest. “Run the Jewels 3” aims its sights to prove that the third installment in a trilogy can be the best. At 14 tracks, the project succeeds by delivering hard-hitting bangers and analog synth arrangements that could inspire political and personal revolution.
The production on this album becomes the third member of the group as El-P fills every track with dense sounds that add texture and weight to every gut-punch and one-liner.
“Bullyin’ bastards and beatin’ on beats / Sounds like a day at the beach, preach,” raps Mike on the Ric Flair tinged track ‘Legend Has It’. Horns and abrasive record scratches creep into simple drum and bass that crescendos into a beat switch signaled by crowds chanting, “RTJ!” The drums slam and the flows murder as if they just launched off the top rope at WrestleMania.
Another standout track, ‘Don’t Get Captured’, describes the morbid reality of those who choose to pull a trigger, whether for profession or necessity. The John Carpenter-esque synths score the snuff film nature while 808’s bust through to mimic gunshots. The song is haunting and a testament to Run the Jewel’s dedication to balance humor, intelligence, and morbid reality. “Is that blunt? Oh well, so’s this boot / We live to hear you say, ‘Please don’t shoot’,” El-P spits from the perspective of a cop who is prideful in beating down the little guy.
Run the Jewels enlist their most diverse selection of features yet, ranging from Detroit’s horror-house M.C. Danny Brown, to Miami legend Trina. Saxophones swell to an emotional climax from L.A. jazz icon Kamasi Washington on the track ‘Thursday in the Danger Room’, which amounts to the best produced and most vulnerable track in the RTJ catalogue.
If the first two Run the Jewels albums set out to prove greatness, “Run the Jewels 3” is their victory speech. El-P and Mike have blown the hinges off of the door for their third outing, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
“Run the Jewels 3” released on physical and digital on January 13, 2017.