Run the Jewels: Still Killing it on RTJ3
Run the Jewels 3 is everything you could’ve hoped for from an RTJ project right now. It’s a full steam ahead onslaught of razor-sharp lines and abstract, banging beats that cut to core of our times, leaving a deep impression on the listener.
Production wise, RTJ3 isn’t far removed from its boundary-pushing predecessors. Yet it still sounds fresh- a testament to just how unique the duo are in the current music climate. The album is loaded with inventive sounds, from the SOPHIE-esque beat of “Call Tinketron” to the menacing thumps of “2100”.
It’s the rapping that steals the show, however, with both El-P and Killer Mike at their dextrous best. Commendably, the pair haven’t lost their sense of humour in this bleak time; on first single and early highlight “Talk to Me”, Killer Mike jokes about Satan wearing “a bad toupee and a spray-tan” (Mike was active on the campaign trail for Bernie Sanders). Not to be outdone, El-P deadpans a line about Baby Jesus killing Hitler shortly after. It’s gallows humour, and damn is it effective. While the album features some of the most explicitly political songs of their career (such as “Don’t Get Captured” and “2100”), there’s a variety of topics examined; “Thursday in the Danger Room”, for instance, is a heartbreaking song finding the two rappers mourning the deaths of two of their respective friends. Guest artists pop in here and there (perhaps the best of whom is Danny Brown on “Hey Kids! (Bumaye)”), complimenting the overall product while never stealing the show away from the central pair.
The friendship between the two parts has never been more evident, with the interplay between Killer Mike and El-P seemingly more intuitive than ever. Not only are they going verse for verse, this time around they also go line-for-line, sometimes finishing each other’s sentences. Their mutual support is aired for the world to hear in numerous lines on album closer “A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters”, and it can be heard in the very fabric of this album. This is clearly the result of two very close friends bringing out the best in each other, and it’s exactly the special kind of thing that you’ll want to experience over and over again.