Run the Jewels is a rap group formed by rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike, and they are both 41 years old. Let that sink in. Run The Jewels is made up of two guys who are in their forties, and their album is being listened to. There must be something special about this album, right? Wrong. After two commercially successful albums, the group has stumbled. RTJ3 shines in certain aspects, but has a couple key flaws that make it a waste of time.
Let’s start with the positives, because according to DJ Khaled, positivity is — like Mozart’s “Rondo Alla Turca” — A Major key. That song is in the key of A major, by the way. Anyway, RTJ3’s strengths are in the lyrics and the vibe. The vibe is aggressive, and it’s apparent throughout the album — it seeps through the lyrics, tone, and production. So much so, that at first, RTJ3 just seems like a pissed off rant of an album. It is, in some sense. However, it gets easier to listen to the lyrics as you get deeper into the album. Rather than being distracted by the spastic production and pissed off delivery, you can listen to what the rappers are saying. This is most apparent in the last little chunk of the album, starting with “Panther Like A Panther.” The intro on this song has no beat, and features El-P layering internal rhyme on top of internal rhyme like he’s baking a lyrical baklava. One slice of said baklava features some dank wordplay as well. “I’ll flood the speakers with heat seekers / And keep sneakers cleaner than nunnery p*ssy e’ning of Easter,” he rapped. While not the most family-friendly in this line, El-P finds a correlation between his shoes and a nun’s vagina. I can’t construct a sentence that adequately describes how vulgarly brilliant I find that.
After “Panther Like A Panther,” Run The Jewels seems to have a lyrical renaissance.
They begin banging out internal rhyme with frequency; they add some great wordplay in as well. The stand-out song in this portion of the album is “A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters.” Through this song, Run The Jewels show just how woke they really are. This song seems perfect for some sort of woke quotes twitter account, and is very quotable. For example, the line: “And it’s a loop, they talk to you just like their rulers do / These f*cking fools have forgotten just who been fooling who,” seems to attempt to expose the “hidden powers” behind the face of authority. I’ll admit that I haven’t risen from my slumber with Run The Jewel’s ultimate wokeness, but I enjoyed the song. This is one of Run The Jewels’ strengths, even if you can’t relate to the politics, El-P and Killer Mike are skilled enough at the craft of rap that every song is enjoyable.
Ultimately, if Run The Jewels had focused on emphasizing their angry delivery and skillful lyrics more, this album could have been much better.
Now onto the negatives. RTJ3 is quite arguably one of the most difficult albums to get through. I’m talking history class on low sleep after eating a big lunch level of difficulty.
This is because while Run The Jewels certainly shines lyrically, the production on RTJ3 sounds super similar song to song. It gets extremely tiresome.
The first half of the album turns into an auditory blur. Though to reach this stage, you have to listen to the album all the way through for a couple times.
Though, to be extremely honest, the time investment is not at all worth the enjoyment of a very slightly-above-average album.