Run The Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike)-Run The Jewels review
Freemusicempire has two founding reasons for me: as a fan of rap I didn’t have any reliable place to go to get sensible music recommendations, also the best and most articulate hip hop critics were writing reviews(even positive) that were insulting to the intelligence of the artists. I remember reading any and all of the hipster sites album assessments and realizing that the writers thought they were much much smarter than the artists. Emcee’s were portrayed as snarling street kids who got songs right by lucky improvisation and confidence. Killer Mike turned the tables on that whole system.
Killer Mike is a genius.
Last year he put out an album(R.A.P. Music) entirely produced by underground legend El-P on the Adult Swim music label. That meant he didn’t have to deal with major label editorial censorship, didn’t have to be fed the same beats and features as everyone else. He also cross-pollinated his fanbase with El-P’s. The resulting collaborative album bonded a Ghostface Killah-like storytelling ability with Mike’s naturally confident political outlook. It was on everyone’s album of the year list and freemusicempire contributor D.L. kept saying to me “they need to just keep putting out this kind of music and become the new Public Enemy.” I couldn’t help but doubt the plan. Is it really that simple?
The answer presented by their collaborative mixtape Run The Jewels is absolutely. The overwhelming crash of El-P production is still here as Bomb Squad resurrected (although it does present tempo changes like Come Down that give an intensity break) but the dynamic the two have sharing the mic is so much more Run-DMC. Just listen to Bananna Clipper where Killer Mike starts off in blistering braggadocio “I move with the elegance of an African Elephant. I presented the evidence eloquent as the president evident is the emphasis, I deserve me a champtionship.” El-P jumps in immediately to follow “Little man against Hellion with the heart of an Orphan. I got the words of a murderer and an eye for distortion. You take a slice of my portion I’ll take a piece of your profit.” Run The Jewels is a statement that these two artists don’t owe respect to anyone. They have fought for their skill and accomplishment and can simply take what they need from the industry, regardless of respect.
Guest stars are minimal. Big Boi brings it on Banana Clipper, Prince Paul is hilarious in reviving Chest Rockwell on Twin Hype Back but the verses are dominated by these two hostile musicians stamping down the middle and end of every bar. Its only ten songs(portrayed as an off season exercise between albums), a jolt of hip hop espresso for your system. When you download it you will find a lyric sheet because these guys live by their words so they want you to know exactly what they are saying.
I don’t want to ignore how utterly impressive El-P is throughout. His kick-off verse on the last track(A Christmas F_ing Miracle) is right up there with anything from his Fantastic Damage days. Both emcees brags are stupendous “These streets is full with the wolves that starve for the week so they after the weak. In a land full of lambs I am and I be damned if I don’t show my teeth (Killer Mike on Run The Jewels).” El-P threatens to river dance on your face, Killer Mike calls his words “murderful” and I think both of these guys are smarter than I am because I didn’t like either of them that much before last year and now they’re somewhere laughing…as twitter blows up in concise complementary comments. When you read the positive reviews on the internet for Run The Jewels, look up the reviews they gave Mike and El years ago. Compare the tone…that’s the benefit of having a plan.
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