hello folks! our weekly review this week is 2016’sĀ Run the Jewels, from Run the Jewels, the rap duo of El-P and Killer Mike –

Run the Jewels is a band i’ve heard talked about a LOT – very much a “your favorite rapper’s rapper” kinda group – but, as is common in this kinda review for me, never sat down and listened to their work. and if this record’s indicative of their output, generally, consider me very interested in checking the other records out.

obv, the biggest thing here is the lyrical content. one of the things i’d heard most is how political and anti-cop RtJ is, and on that front – no disappointment. Talk To Me, the first single off the record, is a p clear example and brings some early heat to the record after the intro. Hey Kids (Bumaye), which features Danny Brown, is a fiery track about folks in power and bragging about uprisings and bringing the power of the people to the folks in charge. Don’t Get Captured discussed rascism and poverty with an extremely tense track – the synths here are on edge, and all of the extra instrumentation and effects only add to those vibes. Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost) is a more conceptual take on a similar perspective, which i REALLY like. Tunde Adebimpe’s bridge here, apparently replying to Mike and El-P, is very haunting, and closing out with Martin Luther King Jr’s comments on riots is an incredible way to bring the track to a close. 2100, with a chorus by BOOTS, is extremely interesting contextually, as this was put out the day after the 2016 presidential election. in that context, the track’s somber tone and the lyrical focus on making positive progress in spite of that def holds different weight, haha.

i think they do a good job of bringing the political down to the personal level as well. Thursday in the Danger Room discusses loss and how opportunity can be cut short for folks.

pacing is another really strong suit of the record. Down, featuring Joi, is a very nice opener – setting the tone with both an ease into the record musically and a kind of stage setting, and as i mentioned above A Report to the Shareholders SLAPS as a closer. the transitions on a track to track basis are extremely clean, and while they dont vary the tone of the record wildly (it stays pretty consistent in terms of being moody tonally and fast in tempo and delivery, occasionally providing softer moments), theres enough there that it feels like you take a bit of a journey across the run time.

there are a couple other lyrical or production moments i really enjoyed – Legend Has It is a brag track, and the funniest moment is late in one of El-P’s verses where he’s talking about his dick again and they cut in a “Stop” before he can end the line. Call Ticketron, which uses the “live at the garden” sample liberally and creatively, has some WILD flow on Killer Mike’s “sama lama doo mama lama” verse. the “remain in our places ” bit in Everybody Stay Calm, where he switches where he is in the stereo mix, is brilliant. excellent use of the medium, plus i like the outrun style synths that drift in and out of the song.

faves – Call Ticketron, Hey Kids (Bumaye), Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost), Thursday in the Danger Room, A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters
dislikes –

Run the Jewels 3 – 8/10

for the next Weekly Album Review, i’ll be taking a look at Get This In Ya, from The Chats! i’ll be back on Friday, May 24th, with that review and to pick another weekly record, and in the meantime, let me know what album you’d like me to review! (i pool all suggestions in one place, and draw a person, then one pick from that person, so feel free to drop as many as you’d like! if you leave an email or username i’ll contact you when i’ve gotten through all your suggestions.