El-P and Killer Mike return with the second Run the Jewels album of the year
Run the Jewels is a collaboration between underground Hip-Hop rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. Their debut album came out in June. It received universal acclaim and is heralded as one of the albums of the year. Now a mere four months later, they have returned with the second album Run the Jewels 2. It’s an extension of its predecessor, but this time they’ve brought some friends along.
The album opens with Killer Mike’s trademark thousand-miles-an-hour delivery, then a bassline kicks in (reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 score) slow and menacing while Killer Mike does his thing. While the lyrics are aggressive, however there is a level of parody to them, so there is never a real threat from Mike’s verses. Run the Jewels 2 doesn’t start hitting its stride until Blockbuster Night Part 1. This one of the album’s standout tracks partly down to El-P’s ridiculously sick production, but mainly for Killer Mike’s clever lyrics, especially this moment of genius “I Jake the Snake ‘em, DDT ‘em in mausoleums”.
As I mentioned it’s not just El-P and Killer Mike this time, the first guest artist is Zak de la Roche. His vocal sample makes up the majority of the track, plus his guest verse shows that he’s still got the goods that made him a household name. The album slows down a bit now. All My Life is about as slow as RtJ’s gets, but don’t worry the pace gets picked up again with Lie, Cheat, Steal. Now we come to a suite of guest appearances. First up is Boots. Boots is slowly making a name for himself in R&B and Hip-Hop. He produced the lion’s share of the last Beyoncé album. His touches give Early some of the albums most memorable and catchy hooks and vocal flourishes. Next on the guest list is Travis Barker. His drums sound tight and this level of instrumentation, juxtaposed with El-P’s slick production give the track a fresher feel than on others. Gangstsa Boo answers Killer Mike’s somewhat suggestive and derogatory lyrics. In truth she gives as good as she receives. Her vocals she that’s not just men who are players and the reverse chorus at the end is a great pay off. Diane Coffee closes off the guest spots perfect. Diane Coffee is actually the alias of Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming. As All due Respect, this tracks added instrumentation gives the track some memorable hooks.
While Run the Jewels 2 isn’t as slick produciton wise as their debut, there is still plenty to engage with. The guest spots are all for the greater good of the tracks, rather than showing off how cool they are by who they know. The future is looking pretty good for Run the Jewels. Next up is a remix album and then the cat influenced Meow the Jewels. El-P is planning to remix the album entirely using cat samples (thanks Kickstarter). Whether this will turn out to be a producers folly or a credible album will remain to be seen, but you can’t say they’re boring can you! Avoid this at your peril!