Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3

While it’s obvious that talent can exist without genius, talent and genius together don’t always make greatness; something else is needed to bond them together. When Killer Mike’s 2012 burst of greatness, R.A.P. Music, was produced by former Def Jux label head, El-P the third ingredient was found. It’s that intangible sense both timing and similarity that, while often can drive people apart, brought them together as well as revitalized, refocused and laid the ground work for the volcano to erupt into a streak of greatness that both had already had, but it seemed like the wider world missed. Run the Jewels was a meeting of the minds where they each had statements to make with a vim, vigor and a sense of fun. Run the Jewels 2 saw them switch to a balance of battle-rap smack talk and two soldiers fist-bumping and saying “I got your back” to one another as if it was them against the world. Run the Jewels 3 is the crystallization of said charge and it’s absolutely captivating.

From the gate, Run the Jewels 3 wastes no time in stating the thought process as “Down” rumbles with Killer Mike stating “I hope with the highest of hopes / That I never have to go back to the traffic and my days of dealing with dope / So I only spit fire and dope / So later on you can go quote / My lines to your people and vote.” Despite it all from all the sociopolitical events that shaped 2016, Killer Mike and El-P are still here to take on “the masters” – the 1%, the ruling class, the demagogue in the presidency, etc. They’re going to use their voices to bring the listener along as well. It’s not just the sociopolitical aspects they’re aiming at. On “Thieves (Screamed the Ghost),” El-P cites “Fear’s been law for so long rage feels like therapy.” If that’s not an indicting statement on our culture as a whole, I’m not sure what is.

Every Run the Jewels album has felt natural, un-choreographed and almost graceful. 3 is a continuation of said pattern in every way from their escalating degree of anger, their smile-inducing jokes (“I’m the shama-lama-dooma-lama / danger dick will do your mama”) and the effortless synchronicity in which they seem to operate. El-P even makes reference to the characteristic on “Stay Gold” as he jovially exclaims “We think so alike we can’t stop high-fivin’.”

Run the Jewels 3 is the culmination of both the talent and genius of El-P and Killer Mike as they continue to look at the world around them with concern, anger and the frustration of continually saying “I told you so.” Their use of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘The Other America’ speech is so unbearably poignant in this moment that there’s a possibility that it may not hit with the same gusto in as little as 5 years. However, as the King sample states, “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. A riot is the language of the unheard.” I hope more will attempt to listen. Sadly, it is my opinion that the riots will continue to be dismissed by ‘the masters’ and the unhearing will continue. However, Run the Jewels have given us a great soundtrack for the turmoil to come.


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