A new Run The Jewels record wasn't due out until mid-January, but they've pulled through with a big surprise. The duo has delivered a Christmas miracle with their highly-anticipated third record Run The Jewels 3.
Ask any hip-hop fan what their most anticipated record for 2017 was. Run The Jewels would almost definitely be up there at the top of the list, and for good reason. This is a group that is not afraid to challenge authority. Across their discography, they've delivered blasting attacks on various elements of society. Run The Jewels 3 is no different delivering slamming commentaries on the nature of our world as seen through the eyes of El-P and Killer Mike.
Starting from the top, 'Down' introduces the album on a somewhat mysterious note. Brought in by a spiraling, spacey synth intro, Killer Mike bringing in the song with a politically charged verse to show that he isn't spitting crap out of his mouth; he has a clear understanding of what he's saying: "One time for the freedom of speeches (speech) / Two time for the right to hold heaters (heaters) / Just give to the fifth and the cops in the house." Joi joins the hook for a haunting harmony, giving the song a bit more edge.
The political context doesn't drag this album down. There are some powerful tracks that work independently of their meanings, such as lead single 'Talk To Me.' The song is a slam on President-elect Donald Trump, but has everything it needs to remain a catchy song that someone who wants to escape politics can still enjoy. The badass, constantly changing instrumental provides a bombastic nature to the track, its cartoonish panic capturing the tone of the past election (though still keeping the track fun). If you are looking for some political anger, the lines "Went to war with the devil and shaytan / He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan" should be all you need.
Many artists this year have been forgetting that instrumentals are a key part of what makes your music memorable. Run The Jewels certainly hasn't. Run The Jewels 3 is filled with powerful, unforgettable moments in the instrumentals alone. 'Legend Has It' has a badass, upfront tone that progresses phenomenally throughout the track, changing and twisting at crucial moments of the track. This mood follows through right into 'Call Ticketron,' a slam on the music ticketing industry that is made all the more powerful with its urgent synths. The fat synths paired with higher interjections in 'Hey Kids (Bumaye)' featuring Danny Brown really drives the track with a lot of power. Things even get a bit smoother by the end of the album, jazz artists Kamasi Washington delivering his talent to the gritty soundscape of 'Thursday In The Danger Room.'
As the album progresses, things get more and more charged up. '2100' sees long-time collaborater Boots back in the mix, helping the song's flow soar with flying colors, especially in the epic bridge. The huge drive of 'Panther Like A Panther (Miracle Mix)' is another track that really has a sense of urgency, the dark instrumental and bouncy beats sounding panicked under Killer Mike's self-powering and brooding verses that act to establish his dominance amongst the fakes of the world: "Run the Jewels'll arrive at arenas, bunch of blood thirsty hyenas / To get revenge on the kingdoms that killed the dreams of the dreamers / Drank alcohol for the demons, sip lean with all of the schemers."
The album's conclusion is essentially 'Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)' Part 2. 'A Report To The Share Holders / Kill Your Masters' comments on all things wrong with our society. The song starts off with a thrilling beat and beautiful electronics, El-P speaking out against those who abuse their power. He claims that he's not afraid to comment against them, but he's "scared that I talk too much about what I think's going on / I got a way with this, they might drag me away for this / Put me in a cage for this, I might pay for this / I just say what I want like I'm made for this / But I'm just afraid some days I might be wrong." Killer Mike picks off where El-P leaves off, slamming the 2016 Presidential election by stating "Choose the lesser of the evil people, and the devil still gon' win / It could all be over tomorrow, kill our masters and start again / But we know we all afraid, so we just simply cry and march again / At the Dem Conven my heart broke apart when I seen them march mommas in / As I rap this verse right now, got tears flowing down my chocolate skin."
The second part of the track (the 'Kill Your Masters' part) is less of a commentary and more of a call to arms to stand up against the wrongs stated in the first section. Killer Mike ends his verse by saying "Devil done got on top of me / Bad times got a monopoly / Give up, I did the opposite / Pitch perfect, did it properly / Owner killed by his property," to say that if an oppressed people (in this case, slaves) could rise up and ultimately defeat the higher power, there is hope. Rage Against The Machine's Zach de la Rocha features in this part of the track, following on with Killer Mike's statement: "Killer children of men on the throne roving with no atonement / Got me feeling like I'm Clive Owen rowing through a future frozen."
Run The Jewels is a force to be reckoned with. If you're someone with power in the world, you do not want to piss off Killer Mike and El-P, because soon enough they'll have a track completely destroying you and telling the people that they can stand up and fight back. Hip-hop is a medium in which authority can be challenged. Run The Jewels is at the top of the food chain when it comes to breaking down what's wrong with the world. Take this album into the new year and remember that change is possible. It lies in your hands.
Favorite Tracks: A Report To The Share Holders / Kill Your Master, Panther Like A Panther, Talk To Me, Down
Least Favorite Track: Stay Gold
Rating: 90 / 100
Happy Holidays from Immortal Reviews!
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