If you’ve been paying any amount of attention whatsoever to either Killer Mike or producer El-P these past few months, you’ve more than likely heard about their collaborative effort, ‘Run The Jewels.’ For those of you who haven’t been patiently waiting for what is probably the most anticipated (yet somehow below mainstream radar) Rap album of the year, I’m here to tell you that the hype is not unwarranted.
Anyone who is familiar with Killer Mike knows that he is one of the few Rap artists signed by a major label who is unrepentant in not only his views of current political and sociological structures, but in his use of violent imagery to get his point across. To expect anything other than rhymes about robbing a rich woman with a poodle and shooting the poodle when the woman wouldn’t “Run The Jewels” is simply asking for something that you won’t get. If that premise offends you, stop reading right now, because it doesn’t get any more light-hearted than that.
According to Killer Mike, this album was at least partially inspired by early tracks from artists like LL Cool J; Apart from the occasional tone or drum being obviously inspired by beats from earlier seminal Hip-Hop albums, very little of ‘Run the Jewels’ fits that descriptive. The majority of rhymes displayed here are unquestionably more aggressive than what you may hear coming out of the radio or your little sister’s headphones. When compared to “sensitive” rappers like Drake, ‘Run The Jewels’ is the Hip Hop equivalent of Slayer. Yes, El-P’s production could make any club come to life, but when El-P speaks lyrics like “Not too tall, dark and handsome man, but I talk dark for ransoms, man” on “36′ Chain”, you get the idea that this album isn’t necessarily for mass consumption. That said, the overwhelmingly positive fan response to ‘Run The Jewels’ suggests that Hip Hop aficionados could possibly see the change in popular tastes that they’ve been waiting on for so long.
When it comes to Rap music, if you have catchy beats and clever rhymes, you have a very real chance of catching on in the mainstream. ‘Run the Jewels’ has both of those in abundance, making it a very likely candidate for “Album of the Year” among Hip Hop purists and possibly club music fans as well. While songs like “DDFH” will never, EVER get played on radio, lines like “if you ain’t Jigga or Puff, you doin’ time and even then you might get ten, word to Shyne” will always make true fans of the genre take notice. While most of this album could be (and probably will be) called “Gangsta Rap”, Killer Mike and El-P do take a few moments to talk about partying on “No Come Down,” but immediately return to form on“Get It”. This is where the talk radio host and self-proclaimed “Pan-African Gangsta Rapper” Killer Mike sums up the theme of this album with just one line: “I’m stuck in a time capsule where Rap is actually factual”. Honestly, if that lyric doesn’t hold any significant meaning at all for you, it may be too late for you to appreciate this masterpiece.