Artist – Run The Jewels
Killer Mike – Vocals
El-P – Vocals/Production
Producers – El-P/Little Shalimar/Wilder Zoby/Sitek/Boots/Nick Hook/Josh Homme/Sweeney
Release Date – 3rd June 2020
Label – Jewel Runners/BMG
One of my favourite albums of 2020, I’m still listening to this regularly almost a year later and it keeps getting better. After producing three albums of excellent quality, they’ve arrived at their masterpiece. EL-P and Killer Mike make a formidable team, the best thing in hip-hop currently by a long shot, maybe the best thing in music period. Both these guys have shown just how forward thinking and talented they are since first emerging on the scene – EL-P as part of Company Flow (check out their Funcrusher Plus (1997) album) in the late 90s and as a solo artist and producer; Killer Mike as a protege of Big Boi from OutKast and part of their Dungeon Family crew. The melding of their styles is a recipe for greatness.
Everything about this album slaps hard. There isn’t a wasted beat or throwaway lyric on it. It makes you think, it hits your heart and at the same time can rock as hard and make you want to mosh as much as any metal band. EL-P’s production is amazing, a sonic stew of massive beats, basslines, distortion, samples, guitars, all whipped up into a maelstrom of music so dense and powerful. It reminds me a lot of what The Bomb Squad were creating for Public Enemy over 30 years prior.
On top of this sonically adventurous soundscape flow two of the most distinctive and hard hitting mic manipulators in hip hop. EL-P has always shown he is more than just a producer who can rap and on this album he delivers his best ever verses, allowing some emotion and personal touches into his lyrics that really grab you by the heart. Killer Mike is just in a league of his own!! His voice is so powerful, so commanding; his lyrics so angry but delivered with so much intelligence and hope sprinkled in that you want to listen to every word he is saying. He is such an important figure in music as a whole at the moment, someone with a voice that people want to hear, someone who has nothing but respect for his views and the way he conducts himself. In an era where music superstars are no longer really a thing, he’s my definition of a superstar – someone who can deliver his art and message in a way that people can look up to and make you not just want to listen to the music but make you want to change and grow and research and learn.
There isn’t a bad track on the whole album and unlike a lot of hip hop records it’s over and done in under 40 minutes, a perfect length that keeps its impact at its most prominent. The best song on here is the closing track, ‘a few words for the firing squad (radiation)’. It’s the most incredible amalgamation of their sound, containing their most heartfelt and moving raps whilst retaining their fuck the system anger and musically is just so powerful. It builds and builds until massive drums come pounding in, saxophone wails over the top, strings soar and it climaxes in a 70s style jazz freakout that sounds like the soundtrack to the moment the world splits apart!! In a good way of course!!
The album is a must listen, I believe it will be held in high regards as an absolute classic in the years to come and now I can’t wait to hear what’s next from Mr. Meline and Mr. Render.
1. yankee and the brave (ep. 4) – 8/10
2. ooh la la (feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier) – 9/10
3. out of sight (feat. 2 Chainz) – 9/10
4. holy calamafuck – 8.5/10
5. goonies vs. E.T. – 8.5/10
6. walking in the snow – 9/10
7. JU$T (feat. Pharrell Williams & Zack de la Rocha) – 9/10
8. never look back – 8/10
9. the ground below – 8.5/10
10. pulling the pin (feat. Josh Homme & Mavis Staples) – 9/10
11. a few words for the firing squad (radiation) – 9.5/10
Overall – 9/10