Nathan Young reviews RTJ4 by Run the Jewels
Artist: Run The Jewels
When New York rapper and producer El-P and Atlantan rapper Killer Mike first formed Run The Jewels in 2013, few predicted that, not only would the duo stay together for almost a decade, but that they would remain to be one of the most exciting and innovative acts in hardcore hip-hop. As individuals, both artists had enjoyed success, both solo and as part of short-lived groups, or as featured artists. They had previously worked together too, with El-P having produced Killer Mike’s solo album Rap Music in 2013.
Run The Jewels has once again made an album that pulls no punches musically, lyrically, or politically. The opening track, ‘Yankee and the Brave (ep.4)’ reintroduces the listener to El-P’s hard, aggressive, punchy beats immediately. The ingenious lyrics and rhyme flow through the rest of the tracks without a dud among them.
The politics of this album hit hard with righteous anger. ‘Walking in the Snow’ has Killer Mike choking on the words “I can’t breath”, not only in reference to George Floyd but to Eric Garner and the many other black men murdered by police who shared those last words. Other tracks such as ‘JU$T’ also deserve special attention for their political message, but the whole album is imbued with the theme. While it was released during the most recent round of Black Lives Matter protests, the sad truth is that at no point has an album about the oppression of black Americans not been timely.
If masterfully produced tracks with pounding beats, complex lyrics, and sound politics are your thing, then Run the Jewels 4 is for you. It slaps.