When you get one of the most anticipated rap albums of the year early, you write about it, so this review of the new Run The Jewels album, RTJ2, had to happen. For those that are unfamiliar with Run The Jewels, it is a collaborative effort between Atlanta rapper Killer Mike and New York City producer and rapper El-P. Their first self-titled album came out in the beginning of last summer and was instantly met with critical acclaim. A few of the new tracks are noticeably darker than the first album; for example, Blockbuster Night Part 1 instantly comes in with the heaviest thudding bass beat. Though the general theme of the beat production on the album is heavier than the last, the quality of El-P’s beats are still top notch, mixing a driving futuristic synth, crisp snare beats, and a grab bag of random samples that add a new dimension to the track. Lyrically Killer Mike and El-P range from clever to just straight up explicit (listen to “Love Again (Akinyele Back)” if you want both of those). One thing is that the lyrics are always confident as any rapper’s should be, but at the same time they get pretty ridiculous; the first line from Killer Mike on “Lie, Cheat, Steal” is “I’m fly as a Pegasus that’s no embellishment/ I’m here to pain the whole game, where the Excederin” or El-P’s line in “All Due Respect”: “I don’t flirt with greatness, I wifed it in Vegas”. Not only are Killer Mike and El-P lyrically above everyone else, but also they go together like Bonnie and Clyde (sorry Jay Z and Beyoncé). The two rappers play off each other’s verses seamlessly, going back and forth running through lines at a fever pitch. While there aren’t too many features on the album (as if they really needed any), the people they got to feature are great. They got Zack de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) out of whatever he has been doing since the last RATM album to deliver a tasty, politically-charged verse on “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F**k)". Gangster Boo’s verse on “Love Again (Akinyele Back)” is decent too, and fairly reminiscent of Azalea Banks; Travis Barker lays down some awesome tribal-esque drumming on “All Due Respect.” To wrap it up, this album is like Christmas come early. If you liked the first album, nothing much has changed; if you haven’t heard RTJ before, you’d be missing out if you didn’t immediately go and listen to this album when it comes out and just keep playing it.
Favorite Tracks: All of them, but if I have to pick a few, “Jeopardy,” “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” and “Close Your Eyes (and Count to F**k)” are good places to start.