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Intense and powerful new album from Run the Jewels

Hip Hop duo Run the Jewels released their new album early, with proceeds going to help defend arrested protesters. Ira Bundy says it's brilliant

Issue No. 2708

RTJ4 by Run The Jewels

RTJ4 by Run The Jewels


Run The Jewels’ latest album starts as a heavy hitter. It’s intense, it’s powerful—in both its beats and its lyrics.

The first song is Yankee and the Brave. But I think the second track Ooh LA LA should have been the first. That’s because “ooh la la, ah, oui oui!” is exactly what I exclaimed 30 seconds after beginning this amazing album.  Why did I speak in French? I don’t know either.

The melodies are beyond intense. They’re a continuous euphonious crescendo.

Beyond that the beats and the flow of Killer Mike and EI-Ps rapping style is reminiscent of the Beastie Boys’ staccato rhythm, yet errs itself to 90’s gangsta rap.

Honestly, by the third song “Out of Sight” I was lost in the music.

I heard a ring, ring, ring. I thought it was part of the song, and then I realised it was someone at my door.

I went to answer it and as I opened to see the Amazon delivery guy standing there the beat dropped again.

I had no choice but to take my package and slam the door.

He didn’t deserve that. But when you’re listening to a sound so naughty that if it were a teenager in the early 00s it would have gotten an Asbo, you tend to do the inexplicable.

I see now why the next beat was labelled, “HOLY CALAMAFUCK”.

And every day on evening news they feed you fear for free
And you so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me
And ‘til my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, “I can’t breathe”

Killer Mike, Walking in the Snow

It’s the most apt description for the way you feel leading up to and including it.

Beyond the mischievous melodies, Killer Mike is a well-established black activist, and it’s evident in his lyrics.

His lyricism can be provocative with bars like, “Remember the death of Jesus, a hero killed by the state,” or, “Look at all these slave masters posing on your dollar”.

Yet at the same time they can be humorous.

A mini-skit at the end of the track Walking in the Snow features the line, “One of them’s black and one of them’s white, so if you don’t like it you’re automatically racist.”

I could sing the praises non-stop, but I’m exasperated. The album is vibrant and deep. It’s a party and it’s intimate.

The last song A Few Words for the Firing Squad is operatic in its length and entertainment.

It was so invigorating by the end of it both my son and my daughter had a combined asthma attack.

The strangest thing about that was I don’t even have children.

Download at runthejewels.com Pay what you want—all proceeds go to the Mass Defence Program

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Reviews
Fri 5 Jun 2020, 16:55 BST
Issue No. 2708
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