So I know I’ve been kind of quiet so far this year, but I have returned with the first album review of 2017!
Today’s review comes from a rap duo. One rapper from New York and the other from Atlanta. Many of you may actually be familiar with the southern half of this duo, as he spent most of 2015 actively and aggressively campaigning for New York state senator Bernie Sanders during his run for president of the United States of America (*sobs BERNIEEE WHY DIDN’T WE LISTEN TO YOU BERNIEEE).
Aside from his political affiliations, many older fans may know this rapper for much of his collaborative work with legendary Atlanta rap duo, Outkast. For those of you who are still bemusedly scratching your head, I’m talking about Killer Mike.
Admittedly I know less about Mike’s partner in rhyme El-P, but I do know that he’s been pushing alternative hip-hop to the forefront for the past 20 years. He’s put in some major work not only producing stellar projects for the likes of artists such as Aesop Rock and Cannibal Ox, but rapping as well putting out three solo studio albums. On His third album, Cancer 4 Cure, he collaborated with Killer Mike for the song Tougher Colder Killer. A year later the two joined forces again to create the musical force that is known as Run The Jewels.
Run The Jewels released their third album, Run The Jewels 3, on Christmas day last year and I think I’ve listened to it at least twice a week since then. So without any further ado, here my review of RTJ3:
So this album starts off with the song Down, which is an apt title because that’s how the song sounds. It’s not particularly sad or anything but it doesn’t pack the normal punch production wise that I’ve come to expect from RTJ songs. However that doesn’t mean that the song is lyrically lacking. Run The Jewels is known to be very political in their subject matter and this song doesn’t stray from that at all with Mike saying “Sittin right next to a book and a gun/ ballot or bullet you better use one.” Even though the lines were tight, this song left me wanting, but I’m 86% sure that this was the intended effect, because HOLY SHIT WHEN TALK TO ME COMES IN YOU ALMOST CAN’T HANDLE IT (Though to be fair, Killer Mike did tell us on RTJ1 AND RTJ2 and we still didn’t believe him)
From Talk To Me on this album mostly keeps the explosive almost frantic pace. This is the best thing that RTJ could have done in my opinion because the fast paced beats used are perfect for demonstrating the group’s superb flow. This is especially true of Killer Mike who weaves words together with such an elegant ferocity that I’m honestly having trouble finding the words to accurately describe it you. Remember that hyperactive squirrel that Steve Carell played in that DreamWorks movie Over The Hedge?
Imagine giving that little guy 2 Redbulls and telling him to read through a dictionary. That’s the closest thing you’re gonna get to matching Killer Mike’s flow. Even Kendrick Lamar has acknowledged that the man deserves his props.
Aside from the dope beats and hypnotizing flows, one thing about this album that really stands out to me is its cohesiveness. All fourteen tracks are tightly woven together. In some instances this means that the end of one song will bleed into the beginning of the next song. But that isn’t all that unique and is something that I’ve heard many times before. On this album not only do you have the cross song fade, but the sounds were put together in such a way that the notes of the previous song teases your ears for the notes of the next. Because of this it is almost impossible to listen to the songs of this album in any order but the one that they’re already packaged in. It’s an album in which you don’t skip songs (or at least I don’t) and that truly is a hard feat to accomplish.
Though there aren’t many features on RTJ3, (I believe there’s only 6 or 7. most of them are only singing the hook and one of them is a Ticketron bot so) the ones that are on the album are notable to say the least. They have Trina on a song, and though she doesn’t get a verse it was nice to hear her voice again. Also Danny Brown lends his peculiar flow to the group and stole the show on Hey Kids(Bumaye). And then at the end of the album we get surprised by a verse from Zach De La Rocha, ex front man of the band Rage Against The Machine and one of the top 5 MC’s outside of hip-hop. I nearly lost my mind when I heard his voice because the last time RTJ and ZDLR collaborated (On RTJ2’s Close Your Eyes and Count To Fuck) De La Rocha’s verse nearly left me in a catatonic state.
Finally, there’s no way I could talk about this album without mentioning the lyrical content. As I mentioned earlier, Run The Jewels have never kept their feelings towards the political climate a secret and this album continues that trend. This album is littered with great expressions of the frustration, disappointment, and rebelliousness that I’ve noticed welling up in the stomach of this country since election season started. Also during one song they utterly dismantle CNN reporter Don Lemon. But not every lyric is politically poignant, some are just dope ass braggadocios bars. Legend Has It is a great example of this. During Killer Mike’s opening verse he says “RT&J we the new PB&J we dropped a classic today” and later during one of El-P’s verses he made me spit out my drink by saying “I’m fuckin magic, in fact I’m a warlock of talk/ I got a unicorn horn for a (stop)”
I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I think that it’s the group’s best work, though to be completely honest I say that every time they drop an album. They just keep besting themselves. Every time I think they couldn’t possibly get any better they drop another masterpiece. I highly encourage you to not only check this out, but to listen to all three of their albums (they’re all free so that should help). I guarantee that you will not be disappointed or your money back!
Overall Rating: 10/10 (I have no issues with this album at all)
Standout Tracks: Call Ticketron, Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost), Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix), Stay Gold, A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters
Favorite Lines: From Killer Mike: “Yeah I said it, I meant it, I ain’t flinchin/Marshawn Lynch’n it/Run through a motherfucker’s face like ignant isn’t it?/Domain eminent, we the pre-eminent
From El-P: “They fucked up and paid us, made us dangerous/Too old to change, I’ma stay with paper/Poor folk love us the rich hate our faces/We talk too loud, won’t remain in our places”
From a featured artist: “The world surges, the nation’s nervous/The crowds awaken, they can’t disperse us/We ain’t at your service/We won’t stay sedated/Won’t state our numbers for names and remain faceless/ We dignified they can’t erase us.” (If you wanna know who said this, then you’re gonna have to check out the album)
So there you have it. What other albums should I review? Comment below and let me know!(bars)
There’s Some Flava For Your Ear