It’s hard to believe that Killer Mike’s ‘R.A.P. Music’ LP is basically 5 years old, the album that first brought forth the audacious pair that is now Run The Jewels. Those in the know knew that El Producto producing an entire album for Dungeon Family’s Grammy award winning slept on heavy weight would bring forth something special. Those that knew didn’t know it would lead to Hip-Hop’s most sought after new duo, in an era where groups are virtually nonexistent and album’s production being entirely overseen by one producer is seen as even less of a commodity, Run The Jewels manage to bring these two iconic staples back from the foundation and into present-day and furthermore the future with shocking ease and much needed acceptance.
El-P’s soundscapes always exceeded the integral polarizing noise-like aesthetic that Hip-Hop sonically set out with as a means of separation and ironically acknowledgment. A student of the ‘golden-era’ El-P has described his sound as Boogie Down Productions on acid, this adherence to the roots of Hip-Hop coupled with progression and growth has lead to El’s beats being the one true sonic descendant of the original East Coast sound, a rightful evolution in a genre where many claim farce in the direction the sound has gone toward since the mid-90s. ‘R.A.P. Music’ and even RTJ2 deviated off the path and even stumbled upon melody on some tracks, especially on Killer Mike’s solo record, El specifically catering to Mike’s southern flow-driven roots, RTJ3 completely strips that down to a skeletal scarcity. Almost to a fault Run The Jewels 3 plays as pure minimalist angst, synths, distorted basslines, thumping 808s, and not much more create a haunting dystopian background. Tracks almost blend together in their scarcity only to be lifted into distinction through choruses, sung hooks, and features. Danny Brown stops by on a indistinguishable muddled bassline on ‘Hey Kids’ and Tunde Adebimpe chimes in to bring “Thieves” up from obscurity and drill home the message of a much needed lyrical analysis of societal problems. ‘2100’ ft. BOOTS shines some sonic lights as the distorted abstraction of sound materializes as melody and guitar chords string out of the gutter and combine to bring beauty to the listener. Immediately we are plunged back into oblivion on the Trina assisted ‘Panther Like A Panther’, war drums bang and a constant percussion loop reverberates in the background.
Run The Jewels not only push the envelope sonically, bringing early 80s electro-funk 100 years into the future on ‘Call Ticketron’, they push the envelope lyrically and topically. ‘Thursday In The Danger Room ‘ has Hip-Hop’s new dynamic duo dealing with the reality of death and how it effects the psyche of more than those just physically going through it. The album’s finale hosts a bonus track where the crew brings back Zach DeLa Rocha on ‘Kill Your Masters’ a call to arms after an introspective look on the proceeding ‘A Report To The Shareholders’ a message to their aware fans while noticing their stock rise which doubles as a pledge to ‘remain hostile’. ‘Strike while the iron is hot’ seems to be the maxim this crew is going for so we still expect more following the conclusion-filled final statement on the last track, in under 5 years Mike and El have already put out 3 stellar albums and 2 joint effort solo albums so it’s a safe bet to say that Run The Jewels aren’t quite done with their heist yet.