Run The Jewels is what you would get if BIg K.R.I.T. and Trent Reznor hooked up, and if Trent could rap. Their second album, Run The Jewels 2 is a bombastic record filled with zippy one liners, earth shattering beats and friendship. Killer Mike and El-P not only created an album that is sounds sonically better than their first project, but they did it the way they wanted to. They released their music for free on their site, and garnered the respect of publications and MC’s everywhere. Without further ado, this weeks’ album is RTJ 2!
I never really delve into the history of how a group got together, but the story of Killer Mike and El-P is too good to forgo. Killer Mike and El-P both had separate relations with Adult Swim. El did some beats and music for them, Mike actually was featured as a voice on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Killer Mike wanted to reach out to new producers for his new album, and Jason Demarco from Adult Swim recommended El-P to him. In the first day they linked up, they finished 3 jams, and Mike eventually badgered El-P to point where he would do the full album. El was hesitant because he wanted to finish his own album that he had been working on after the loss of his close friend and label mate Camu Tao.
Mike and El are featured are their respective 2012 projects “R.A.P. Music” and “Cancer4Cure” and eventually toured together. After the tour, El wanted to record more music and Killer Mike jumped on it. It would eventually become Run The Jewels’ first album, RTJ1. Add another tour and a year and you have RTJ2.
You finna look at history being made
When I first heard of RTJ, I heard of their single with Zack from Rage Against The Machine: “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”. I had that song on repeat for a month and didn’t listen to the rest of the album. When I accidentally played the opening song “Jeopardy”, I skipped class and listened to the album 3 times back to back to back. Killer Mike comes in with such a fierce, angry intro that just blows you away. El-P’s verse on this song, going from self deprecating to braggadocio. The album only goes up hill from there to “Oh My Darling” and “Blockbuster Night”. At this point, you realize that not only are Mike and Jamie ferocious MC’s, but El-P’s beats are on another astral plane. They have roots in punk, jazz, boom-bap and electronica all at the same time. My favorite sound on this entire album are probably the castanets in the background from ‘”BlockBuster Night”
The group also discusses social issues in “Close Your Eyes”, “Early”, and “Crown”. Early is a story the group made up where Mike gets arrested in his neighborhood and he has to suffer the police system, while El-P hears the sirens off in the distance and goes about his day. The song is very telling of the sociopolitical climate in the United States, and it is only pushed forward in Angel Duster where Mike talks about selling dope to a pregnant woman and the guilt he is ridden with doing so while El comes with a biting verse about the government.
You are now listening to Run The Jewels 2
This album was my album of the year when I first heard it. Out of all of the music I listen to, this entire album gets listened to at least once every three days. Everything from the length of the album to the features is just perfect and calculated. You don’t get fatigued listening to this album, you only wish it was longer. Killer Mike nor El-P outshine each other, and El-P’s production is beautiful and bombastic at the same time. Their flows are so unique and their wordplay and how they play off each other is also of huge note. But most importantly, above all else, this album sounds like two friends making music.
You can download all of the Run The Jewels albums here for free.