Run The Jewels 3 by Run The JewelsRelease date: December 26, 2016
Label: Self Released
There hasn’t really been a hip hop act since Public Enemy that has transcended so many sonic and social barriers with their message until we get to Run The Jewels. Since their initial recordings as a duo, the pairing of Killer Mike and El-P have garnered unlimited plaudits for their fiery raps and have turned their anger and frustration on many targets from politicians to big corporations and especially the police. In the great hip hop tradition of standing up to authority, Run The Jewels are the latest in a long lineage of defiant rap artists from NWA and Boogie Down Productions and of course PE to Paris and The Coup (whose main MC Boots Riley featured on the last RTJ album) and while there has always been that defiant streak throughout the history of rap (even when you wouldn’t expect it) to the modern day and highly politicised hip hop (if you knew we here to find it), there hadn’t really been any artists who stood out and a aught the publics imagination like NWA and Public Enemy until Run The Jewels.
With enough fury directed at various targets on their previous two albums, you might be forgiven for thinking that the fearsome twosome might have run out of targets (witness the change in direction and subject matter between NWAs first and second albums) but with the uncertain state the world and in particular America is in right now, a new album by Run The Jewels is needed now more than ever and their rage has got even more focussed.
The machine gun fire raps by both MCs are in full force here and from the moment Killer Mike starts rapping on opening track ‘Down’, it is a relentless barrage of passionate raps and faultless productions. Despite both members being in their early forties, they spit their lyrics as if they have just started rapping recently but their years and years of experience in hip hop allow them to put everything they rap about in perspective and with an air of heady authority (as ‘Down’ testifies to).
From then on, it’s a heady mix of head spinning beats and hard hitting lyrics that requires repeated listens to fully get your head round the truth that Run The Jewels are speaking. Not surprisingly, “President”?! Trump gets it with both barrels with Killer Mike rapping the lines “We return from the depths of the badland, with a gun and knife in our waistband, went to war with the Devil and Shaytan, He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan” with venomous force and there are so many similar quotable lines littered throughout Run The Jewels 3 that it’s imposile to list them all here!
Even tracks that are at first listen sound sonically like popular hip hop club tracks like ‘Call Ticketron’, ‘Stay Gold’ and ‘Panther To Panther” are actually subversive and feature more fiery raps than a thousand other hip hop acts around at the moment while retaining a sound that sounds current. Other tracks like ‘Hey Kids (Bumaye)’, a track that features guesting kindred spirit Danny Brown), ‘Don’t Get Captured’, ‘Oh Mama’ and ‘Everybody Stay Calm’ in particular are straight hip hop classics in the making, delivered with a frenzied vehemence.
Run The Jewels 3 is an astounding album, one that distils decades of hip hop into its beats and rhymes but also transcends the genre and also one that deserves all its plaudits but more importantly it’s a significant album, one that tackles difficult and sensitive subjects like racism with intelligence as well as anger and one that will be both a wake up call and a call to arms to thousands if not more people in today’s Trump led America and beyond, it’s that important.