Words About Music
Run the Jewels “Run the Jewels”
Last year, two of hip hop’s best releases of 2012 came out within a week of each other. First came an album called “R.A.P. Music,” the sixth by Atlanta rapper Killer Mike. Mike had been recording for over 12 years and was a de facto member of fellow Atlantans Outkast, but he’d never really seen the overwhelming critical and commercial response that he saw when he released this album. The secret? He recruited underground producer El-P to produce the whole thing, and he did an amazing job. R.A.P. Music was listed among many critics’ top 50 albums of the year, and for good reason.
The second album was called “Cancer 4 Cure,” the fourth by the aforementioned El-P. El-P is well known for being a member of alternative hip hop group Company Flow, as well as producing Cannibal Ox’s “The Cold Vein”—their debut, and only, album—AND for founding the Definite Jux record label which has released albums by Aesop Rock, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and El-P himself. Cancer 4 Cure also generated a ton of critical acclaim, and featured guest verses by Despot, Danny Brown, and, you guessed it, Killer Mike.
The Killer Mike/El-P friendship became something that many hip-hop fans talked about. Considering this partnership had produced some of the best music either person had made, people were hoping they’d continue to work together. But earlier this year, people heard a taste of something even better than El producing a new Killer Mike album. We got news of a full-fledged Killer-Mike-and-El-P-trading-verses album. They even gave their duo a name, Run the Jewels, and stated that their upcoming album would be released for free through Fools Gold Records, the same company that Danny Brown is signed to. And now, the 10-song album is here.
“Run the Jewels” is one of the most badass hip hop albums I’ve heard all year. El-P is obviously handling the production and doing as good a job as he’s done for the past 15 years or so, and him and Killer Mike come in no holds barred and sound like they’re both out to kill someone. But not only do they both have some of the best flows I’ve ever heard, they both write lyrics that are intense, strange, and at times quite funny. Every time I listen to this album I hear something else that makes me think or makes me laugh or just brings attention to itself. One of my favorite lines is when El-P says on “Twin Hype Back”: “Humblest guy in the room and I am in the room too (get it?)”
While this project could have gone completely wrong, El-P and Killer Mike are both still making exciting music that is fun to listen to and very lyrical. They also bring in special guests like Big Boi and Prince Paul to help them execute rap’s great assassination attempt. Jamie and Michael both bring their A+ games to this record, but I do have a complaint. As great at writing verses as they are, Killer Mike and El-P are not great at writing choruses. Not only are they not very catchy, but sometimes they’re just plain bad. However, the choruses are usually short, so it doesn’t take long to get past them and jump right back into the deep end of intricate boom-bap beats and extremely well written verses.
SCORE – 9.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – Run the Jewels, Banana Clipper (feat. Big Boi), Sea Legs, Get It, A Christmas Fucking Miracle