Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 3 Album Review

Worthy of RTJ trilogy


 December 24, 2016


It seems like decades have passed since Killer Mike rocked the hip-hop scene with his R.A.P. Music (second only to Kendrick’s masterpiece in 2012’s rap year) and not much later Mike and El-P collaborated for the first time. 2013 marked the debut for Run The Jewels. Their album dropped for free on Fool’s Gold and it was a revelation: the chemistry between the two explosive rappers was clear from the first second, the political charge was the strongest since probably Rage Against the Machine’s best moments, and the duo promised to continue to work together.

Fast forward to Christmas 2016, Run The Jewels surprise us with the drop of their third album for free: Run The Jewels 3. The record opens with Down, a laid back track for RTJ’s standards, with a dub vibe in the refrain and an orchestrated background to the beats; while listening to it I was thinking that the duo could have lost some force and power from their past works. The next twenty minutes of the record immediately proved myself that my feelings were completely erroneous: six tracks of aggressive, rough, hard rapping that show once again RTJ are still at their best. Talk To Me features a fast beat and politically charged lyrics by El-P that can be interpreted as a critique to the American government and its invasive spying system, Legend Has It is the most self-celebrating track of the pack, Hey Kids (Bumaye) warns the young fan base that RTJ rap is still a tough pill to digest: ‘Word architect, when I arch the tech, I’ll part ya’ neck / Got bars on deck, that Xanax flow, make you nod your head’ says Danny Brown, which features in the song and totally kills it. Don’t Get Captures is about the ever actual theme of police violence to unarmed citizens: ‘We don’t argue, we are not calm and impartial / Some call it work, but it’s more like an art / We just paint the walls with your heart / And we better not catch you’ El-P raps impersonating a police officer.

Thieves splits the record and includes a multi-layered beat that will stick in your ears for a long time, while the second part of the record offers a more diverse spectre of sounds than the first one, and it compensate for the less aggressive approach: the tribal Panther like a Panther opens the second half, the song Boots includes a rare guitar riff,  the featuring with Kamasi Washington Thursday in the Danger Room has an undeniable Kendrick Lamar influence. The closing A Report to The Shareholders/Kill Your Masters is easily the most well written song of the album, it features a surprising cameo by Zach de La Rocha and includes this superb verse referred to the recent American political madness: ‘Choose the lesser of the evil people, and the devil still gon’ win / It could all be over tomorrow, kill our masters and start again / But we know we all afraid, so we just simply cry and march again’.

RTJ3 is mastered by Joe LaPorta, who worked with the likes of David Bowie, Vampire Weekend and Beach House among the others. His work always guarantees a coherent listening from track to track. The production is amazingly detailed, and particularly the bass is terrific from start to finish. El-P and Killer Mike seem born to work together, every time one stops rapping and the other starts his part the listener feels a powerful blow straight to its chest, despite having very different styles they always seem to find a way to complement each other spectacularly: RTJ3 reaches the greatness of its predecessor and only the lack of one or two unforgettable songs separate it from being a masterpiece.

And the crowd goes RTJ

And the crowd goes RTJ

And the crowd goes RTJ


Full listen on Spotify below:

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