Run the Jewels :: Run the Jewels 2
Mass Appeal Records
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
Oh my darling - don't cry.
Run the Jewels, the
initially unlikely duo of indie darling El-P and Southern rap heavyweight Killer Mike, took the hip-hop scene by storm in 2013 with an album that
was released free digitally and for a nominal fee physically. It turned
out to be the classic hip-hop odd couple, as El-Producto's penchant for
futuristic beats and linguistic inventiveness (who else rhymes "blunderbuss"
with "thunderous") were perfectly met by Michael Render's ATLien swagger and
street smart reality. Get arrested by the "Hip-Hop Police?" Mike knows what
your chances of beating the rap are: "Cause if you ain't Jigga or Puff, you
doin time/and even then you might get 10, word to Shyne."
The unapologetically unconventional duo surprised the world
by dropping Run the Jewels 2 early,
essentially saying "f#%! a Tuesday drop date" and/or "f#%! a record store."
Of course it helps when you have the artistic freedom TO eschew
convention thanks to a large fanbase, and the first RTJ album cultivated all
of the support they would or could ever need. The duo offered
a wide variety of
pre-order packages that quickly sold out, and just for the humor value
some additional packages with ridiculous names and prices.
One of them was so off the wall that it was launched it as a Kickstarter and people actually took the bait - including
yours truly. After all they already gave away the album digitally for free,
so paying $10 for a chance to hear the "Meow the Jewels" version seems fair
(and El-P is donating the money to charity anyway). I'm still trying to
imagine how a version of "Love Again (Akinyele Back)" will sound with
nothing but cat sounds - though it will fit Gangsta Boo's verse well.
The song itself is yet another case of El-P and Killer Mike flipping the
script on expectations. In case anybody had pigeonholed Run the Jewels as
a "meeting of the minds" between two intellectual rappers with two completely
different styles, the raunchy track and Gangsta Boo's crass verse brings
back memories of Ak's mid-1990's hit "Put It In Your Mouth" - hence why
he's referenced in the song title. It's not some Dirty South meets NY
political mindf#%! - it's just a straight up fun ode to getting dirty and
stankin' like an Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P. Russell).
There's plenty of fun being had all over "Run the Jewels 2" even when the
tracks are deadly serious. That's the chief reason that El-P and Killer Mike
work - you can see the studio sessions in your head and envision them bouncing
ideas off each other saying "How can we top the last one? How can we mess
with our fans? How can we make some next level hip-hop without becoming
pompous and full of ourselves?" Answer - by making songs like "Angel Duster."
El-P: "You say you wanna be my leader
I think you wanna be my God
You say you on the side of the righteous
I say I'm gonna hang with the wrong...
I don't give a f#%! about power
I'll pluck an eye out a pyramid"
Killer Mike: "I kill my masters, I'm into none
Dat means when I die that's it
My style is gone, I'm a one to one
One half of the great... RTJ
Cause these are the odds, went to war with the Gods
Earned all our scars and came back great"
There aren't many cameos on "Run the Jewels 2," not that you would want anybody
to get in the way of their vibe, but the ones that do show up definitely count.
Along with the aforementioned Gangsta Boo, Travis Barker lends his drumming skills
to "All Due Respect" to give it extra adrenaline, and Zack De La Rocha lends his
anti-establishment Rage to the song "Close Your Eyes."
The only thing you really need to know is that no matter how you cop RTJ2,
whether it's as a free digital download, a physical copy from Mass Appeal or
the super-expensive "I'm On The Guestlist" supporter package you're getting
more than your money's worth. The non-bonus track version clocks in at 11
songs and just under 40 minutes, El-P and Killer Mike not wasting a minute
of it. "We run this spot like a Chinese sweatshop" brags the incredibly
politically incorrect El, complete with the sound of a whip cracking, and
it's their ability to flip a middle finger to everybody and everything in
sight while still producing hardcore rap to thump in your car stereo that
makes them so much fun. Take "Blockbuster Part 1" for a spin on the highway.
Killer Mike: "Last album voodoo, proved that we was f#%!in' brutal/I'm
talkin crazy, half past the clock that's cuckoo." So they are.
Music Vibes: 9 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 9 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 9 of 10
Originally posted: October 28, 2014