Continuing their killer streak, El-P and Killer Mike return with their second collaborative album Run the Jewels 2 and it’s pretty close to a hip-hop masterpiece.
El-P’s beats are at their most ferocious but it is lyrically and dynamically that RTJ2 really comes into its own. The two veterans play lyrical tag, circle and square up like prizefighters and gleefully finish each other’s sentences. They gleefully re-contextualize rap brags as subversion not deprecation, with female rapper Gangsta Boo one-upping the boys to deliver a filthy verse “I put my clit in his mouth all day” in ‘Love Again’. Likewise they coax a ferocious, career best verse out of Zach De La Rocha on ‘Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)’, the best song about a prison riot since Johnny Cash played San Quentin, ending on the fearsome pronouncement that “The only thing that close quicker than our than our caskets be the factories”.
From killer rhymes to great guest stars, RTJ2 is smart and socially aware without ever being preachy; in touch with the roots of hip-hop but eyes front, eye-balling the future. Somehow two almost 40 year olds are the most dynamic rap force on the planet and in doing so they offer it a path back from pop feature mediocrity. Run The Jewels fast, fuck the slo-mo (drops mic, walks away).
[Max Sefton – @MaxSefton]