Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Album Review: Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 2

Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels 2
****and1/2 out of *****

The second offering from the successful Run The Jewels duo of Killer Mike and El-P is more of the same complex wordplay and stark, deconstructed EDM beats; in the end not only is it their best collaboration, it is the high-water mark in both of their careers.

Produced primarily by El-P with help from friends the beats don't look back, they stare into the future with random laser blasts, gunshots, digital bleeps and bass burps. It could sound chaotic and fraudulent in others hands but behind Killer Mike's ATL confident revved up rhyme style and El-P's own lines thing stay linked and flow in full.   

Individual songs stand out, but the duo wanted this to be a complete album just as much as they want this to be a "band" as opposed to another side project. They are onto something with tracks as powerful as "Blockbuster Night Part 1" which, in front of digital scratches, allows Killer Mike to drop the groups own press release "This Run The Jewels is, murder, mayhem, melodic music".

In a full album of good lines the two best lyrical offerings close the disk with "Crown" having a split tour-de-force as Mike recounts past mistakes with drugs, lovers and children leading to the hook that is less about boasting and more about recognizing what keeps you from the top. El-P's artistic contribution could be a metaphor for violence, drug use, male on female abuse or a combo of all three with amazing flows like:
This is for everything you’ve ever loved/
Use all the pain that you’ve felt in your life as the currency go out and trade it for blood
You are not you/You are now us
We are the only ones that you can trust
Disk closer "Angel Duster" focuses on dropping the RTJ name over and over sealing the deal of this groups power as mega truths are spit from both of the MC's with Killer Mike delivering powerful ideas:
God really exists I tell you like this it reside inside
And anybody tell you different, just selling you religion, tryin' to keep your ass in line
I kill my masters/I mentor none
While the duo run the show a few guests easily slide in and enhance things, top of that list is Zack De La Rocha contributing to "Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)". Sampled and sped up for the hook before dropping the last verse in which he shouts out to Miles Davis, Philip K Dick Rakim and the death of the working man. Producer Boots also helps out on "Lie, Cheat, Steal" where El-P gets his Hotlanta flow on as the beats pick up and the track flows downhill capturing all of Killer Mike's questions about society in sticky syrup.

Boots sticks around and helps out on the cop abuse jam "Early" and the groups gets its sex rhymes on during "Love Again" with the female side of the dirty acts represented by the Memphis based Gangsta Boo. Clocking in at around 40 minutes RtJ2 is a complete work that engages challenges and bumps with ease and will easily top some best of hip-hop (and other) lists come years end.    

Far from a traditional sounding hip-hop album Run The Jewels have made something that sounds distinctly like the year 2014 yet still manage to infuse their sparse beats and rhymes chock full of old school references (Jungle Brothers shout out in the bumping "All Due Respect") resolving into a full length effort that old school hip hop heads can get behind as long as they have an ear towards to the future.  
Very pumped to have heard this after getting turned onto "some of the best hip hop of the year" a few weeks ago and not digging it all that much. This is that, Run the Jewels is a much better combination of skills and this album is damn solid. It is easily the best Hip-Hop disk we have heard so far in 2014, possibly in much longer.

Support the group here, buy the album ( the digital for free) here and peep some video below.

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