ALBUM REVIEW: Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

Run The Jewels artwork
Run The Jewels artwork

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.36.33 AM

ARTIST Run The Jewels

ALBUM Run The Jewels

LABEL Fool’s Gold

RELEASE DATE 26.6.2013

9.1 | 10

“I got you a glass of beefeater, I got a brand new deck of Uno cards. Oh yeah, baby. The night’s just getting started.” – Twin Hype Back

All-star pairings usually look a lot better in theory than in practice. The 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, 2008’s Righteous Kill, SuperHeavy? Yeah, they had awesome parts. Sure, you’d love to have Dwight Howard as your center, or Mick Jagger as your frontman, but you probably don’t want to pair Howard with a geriatric at PG or Jagger with other vocalists who only shine in the spotlight. Luckily for us, Run The Jewels is much more Watch The Throne than Audioslave.

El-P and Killer Mike worked previously on Killer Mike’s criminally overlooked 2012 album R.A.P. Music, an album which solely featured El-P productions. (The rapper-producer somehow had enough material lying around to release his own Cancer 4 Cure the same year.) The two worked so well together that they decided to record a whole album together, a la Jay-Z and Kanye West, in the form of Run The Jewels. The name, which El-P came up with, was first coined by LL Cool J on the track “Cheesy Rat Blues,” and serves as a way to harken back to old-school hip-hop amidst the largely electronic-based productions.

“These motherfuckers all thorn no rose,” raps El-P on the opening track, embracing his persona. The two rappers trade verses with amazing verbal dexterity, and Big Boi joins the fun on the rousing “Banana Clipper.” The lyrical assault is in full gear, with Mike spitting, “I sent they mom a little cash and a sympathy letter / Told her she raised a bunch o’ fuck boys / Next time do better.” It’s that type of unapologetic and fearless nature than fuels Jewels and makes it the freight train it sounds like.

First single “Get It” knocks just as hard as it did when it premiered, while “No Come Down”’s hook recalls Three 6 Mafia’s “Stay Fly,” and Killer Mike delivers a fantastic verse about falling in love with a stripper while taking mushrooms. “Me and this woman made love in Kemet / Traveled to the moon came back when we were finished / Fell to the earth, lost each other, died and we came back sister and brother / In that lifetime we could not have each other / So we killed ourselves and it killed our mother / True romance, in one lap dance / I was in the future, my present and past.” For anyone left disappointed by Kanye’s lack of raps on Yeezus, consider Run The Jewels your consolation prize.

And I haven’t even mentioned the two best tracks here. “Sea Legs” features perhaps the best verses from Killer Mike and El-P on the entire album, with El falling back into his animalistic ways, rapping, “So I move through the room like an animal fooling its master / But I don’t got love for the hand with the food, matter fact I am drooling at that shit / I don’t only bite but I’m rabid / Try to get my fucking head again and I’mma put a tooth through the flesh of the palm you jack with.” The chorus features the guitar tone made popular by Ratatat, before Killer Mike calls out that other rap supergroup: “There will be no reprieve for the thieves / There will be no respect for The Thrones / … I stand on towers like Eiffel, I rifle down all your idols / Niggas perish in Paris, niggas is nothing but parrots.”

Closing track “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” is another undeniable highlight, featuring sleigh bells that are quickly drowned out by the most sinister beat here. The song, much like “New Slaves,” alludes to just how fucked up parts of the country still are, where you can look outside and see a “cityscape where the blood of good men courses.” While the big and powerful continue to bring corruption and conflict, El-P has an endearing message, a breath of fresh air after the fury that runs through the previous nine tracks. “Them and the lost minds thinking they’re smarter than us / Don’t understand love’s importance / And we can weaponize that, bring ‘em back to the truth where ashes and dust got formed in.” Can it happen? If it does, El-P and Killer Mike sure seem like they’ll be at the center of the revolution. It will be a Christmas fucking miracle, indeed.

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