There is no denying it there is something special in the collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P. The duo, also known as Run the Jewels are in a career resurrection, and rightfully so.
Don’t get me wrong, Killer Mike and El-P have always been names within hip-hop, but the two were not making as much music or getting the recognition and attention they deserved. Their second release as a pair, Run the Jewels 2 is more complete, if not more potent than their 2013 release Run the Jewels. It is perhaps what we needed and what we have been looking for;
“A socially conscience voice, laced with deviously clever disses, delivered with spitfire speed and vocal attack action”
You have to admit, and although we try our best to ignore it, we live in an era of social unrest around the world, and as much we want to deny it, classicism, social inequality, and false appearances are an unfortunate part of day to day life. It is rare, when an act can stand from the throng of bullshit music and point a finger at what is wrong at the society and make social awareness look and sound cool. Fuck boys, right winged politicians and fake public figures be warned, this album is a slap to the face of anyone who pisses the duo off.
What makes the album interesting and stand apart from other hip-hop albums being released is RTJ2 sounds as if it was recorded with live performances is mind, it is a constant stream of rap battle style, lyrical jabs and verbal attacks and the constant trying to up one another. However, the comradery and respect is evident and the duo is here to prove they are a force in rap that you should not be fucking with.
It is evident from the get go, with opening track Jeopardy starting with Killer Mike boasting “I’m finna gonna bang this bitch the fuck out” that this album and duo are a force to be reckoned with, and they want you to know it – “last album voodoo proved we was fuckin’ brutal” boasts Killer Mike in Blockbuster Night Part 1. The first single off the album Blockbuster Night Part 1, released in August is driven by a beat that makes you want to get up and get shit done. It’s a booming bass driven track, where the two get to show off their lyrical talent while maintaining comradery, one of the strongest attributes of the collaboration.
Personally, I think the highlight of the album is Love Again (Akinyele Back) featuring Gangsta Boo, who steals the track. Hip-hop is an interesting genre as its main criticism is the glorifying of sexuality and sexually exploiting women. Which is true (but in reality which genre DOESN’T do that) but this is the song that changes the game. The beautifully absurd song starts with Killer Mike and El-P stating all the filthy acts they wish to partake in with women, and express their love for those who reciprocate. Yes, the song is dirty, explicit and definitely something that would make you feel uncomfortable if it started playing within the presence of your parents, but here’s the thing, Gangsta Boo, who brought us deviously dirty Three 6 Mafia “Tongue Ring,” ultimately steals the song and gives the ladies some credit. I mean, she is just as filthy is not more so than the men on the song, she changed the gender politics and proved she is still kicking ass within hip hop.
Throughout the entire album, El-P production talents shine through. Each track’s lyrical content matches the backing beats made only stronger by the other collaborators on the album. The tour de force of energy that is Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) spits some hilarious and clever lines in third track released Close your Eyes and Count to Fuck, and Travis Barker of Blink-182 propels All Due Respect, a wonderful track where the drums is perhaps as potent and prominent of the booming vocals provided by Killer Mike.
RTJ2 is exactly what we have come to expect from Run the Jewels: two dystopian messengers out to call out the bullshit and fake facades. Angel Duster the most potent track on the album that addresses those in power, those hiding behind false religious faces, those who want to be worshipped, or essentially the affluent and powerful who hide behind false public image. “You say you wanna be my leader, I say you want to be my God” El-P sneers, commenting on those who hide behind their words, adding the final blow with “you want a whore in a white dress, I want a wife in a thong” a pretty overt slap in the face to the white male politicians hiding behind false promises. Angel Duster is a passionate ending to the album, addressing everything from drug, addition and those who (as mentioned in song Lie, Cheat, Steal) essentially do just that to stay in power.
What is probably one of the most important things to note about this album is it is available for purchase from a real label in hardcopy, however, fans were treated to a special surprise when El-P tweeted it was available for free download…about four days before Mass Appeal Records had it available for sale. RTJ2 is a rare album that has successfully passed the sophomore slump and is lyrically entertaining even with its dark and socially conscience lyrics. The collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P is one that doesn’t surface very often, where each person carries as much potency and weight as the other. Without a doubt, these two are potent, clever and come with a message proving that no track, fuckboy or fake within their blast radius is safe as long as they are producing music.