By now all of us should be familiar with RTJ, the Hip Hop duo comprised of producer/rapper El P (from Brooklyn originally of Company Flow fame) and rapper/activist Killer Mike (from Atlanta with origins inside the Dungeon Family). The two artists met back in 2011 while presumably working on Adult Swim for the Cartoon Network, and from there they began collaborating on music and soon went on tour together, thus creating the framework for what would soon become Run The Jewels.
Their first self titled album was released in 2013 to critical acclaim, followed by their follow up on Mass Appeal Records that cemented their cult following. Sure enough El-P and Killer Mike have continued to build their brand with Adult Swim throughout the years, and just released their third album together making them officially the most notable underground duo in Hip Hop today.
Thus without any further introduction needed, Run The Jewels 3 is critiqued track by track below:
Down ft Joi
“I hope (I hope), I hope with the highest of hopes, that I never have to go back to the trap and my days of dealing with dope, so I, I, always spit fire and dope, so later on you can go quote, my lines to your people and folk” The intro is one of the best records off RTJ3, it feels good and Killer Mike snaps on the El-P production with relative ease. This one would be tough not to feel.
Talk To Me
“Smoke kush, transport to the airport, customs found a joint in my passport, pulled cash and I gave him what he asked for, Goddammit it's a motherfucking miracle, small bribe made it back into America, hit Uber and maneuvered out the area, rhyme animal, pit bull terrier, rap terrorist, terrorize, tear it up, Brought gas and the matches to flare it up, Militant Michael might go psycho on any ally or rival, born Black that's dead on arrival, my job is to fight for survival, in spite of these #AllLivesMatter-ass white folk” Killer Mike snaps on this and I co sign his activism work as well as his alliance with Bernie Sanders. That was a decent look for Hip Hop and honestly felt more than just a campaign ploy. Unfortunately for us however the majority of the voters had no morals and values to begin with.
Legend Has It
"RT & J, we the new PB & J, we dropped a classic today, we did a tablet of acid today, lit joints with the matches and ashes away” This one has Mike & El P trading bars throughout the record, and while it’s Hip Hop it still ultimately plays like filler to me, despite the visual treatment that would have you assume otherwise.
“Run the jewels live at the garden, lickin' off shots and we aim for the darkness” Now this one right here is a certified banger… crazy production over effortless lyricism… this one you need to get familiar with 🔥🔥🔥🔥
Hey Kids (Bumaye) ft Danny Brown
“Word architect, when I arch the tech, I'll part ya' neck, got bars on deck, that Xanax flow, make you nod your head, like a gram of blow, you inject, my words infect like insects having incest, I'm in check, like payday on a Thursday and it's Wednesday” Smh Danny Brown is an acquired taste and unfortunately I haven’t acquired it, where even though El-P flexed again on the production I personally can’t enjoy it at all. This one’s a skip for me but if you like Danny Brown then it’s worth a listen.
“I got a bad girl, I got a brain-with-an-ass girl, she got a mean bop, I got a lean to the way I walk, and I get it like gold” El-P kinda coast on this but this is filler all the same. Not trash but nothing I’d recommend either.
Don’t Get Captured
“Hello from a Little Shop of Horrors, ski mask like a Phantom of the Opera, go cold like the land of Chicago, child soldiers sprayin the chopper” I’m a fan of Mike and I appreciate his pen but thanks to the lackluster hook this is more album filler, even with the stellar production from El-P who to his credit sets the tone on every record.
Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost) ft Tunde Adebimpe
“CNN got dummy Don on the air, talking bout he smell that ganj in the air, dummy don't know and dummy don't care, get that punk motherfucker outta here” Shots fired at Don Lemmon and I’m here for it, ultimately this is a clever concept record and a better than decent album cut overall.
2100 ft BOOTS
“Seen the devil give a sermon in the church, seen an angel dancing in the club, tryin' to feed a baby so I threw a thousand in the air, and blessed her with a hug I done been down so many times, walked on like a dirty rug, and now that I made it, can't fake it, gotta give me what I'm truly worthy of” More 🔥🔥🔥 Killer Mike and more 🔥🔥🔥 from El-P and it should be noted that the hook provided by Roc Nation producer/artist BOOTS (who worked with Beyonce on her critically acclaimed self titled album in 2013) makes this one of the most complete records off the album.
Panther Like A Panther (Miracle Mix) ft Trina
“Told the preacher I love her, he said that God was her lover, I said if he really loves her then he would love that we're lovers” El-P and Trina on the same track who woulda thought… nonetheless El-P snaps on this and Mike does his numbers as well. Overall a solid album cut.
Everybody Stay Calm
“Presidential suite, got a fuck boy jealous, I'm the Nelson Mandela of Atlanta dope sellers” MIke & El-P trading bars again and this time it really works, still not a standout but another decent cut for the album
“I smoke the holy herb, get high as hell and meditate, swear to God, shit's so good, fat boy'll levitate, God gift to man, how the fuck they try to legislate, mom's she recovering, tell me I over-medicate” I like the concept but not the record this is another skip for me.
Thursday in the Danger Room ft Kamasi Washington
“Right for a right, wrong for a wrong, this is clearly not life's design, figure out quickly that nothing gets answered when you ask the universe why, fife is a journey, to live is to worry, to love is to lose your damn mind” El-P in particular snaps on this grim introspective record where thanks to the content alone it’s a better than decent album cut. Mind you El-P is a better rapper than he’s given credit for thus he really a dual threat and an incredible talent.
A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters ft Zach De La Rocha
“Choose the lesser of the evil people, and the devil still gon' win” the outro on the project is nothing short of a triumph… as this politically conscious track legitimately feels like the revolution, thanks to powerful lyrics, unbelievable production, as well as the vintage sounds of Rage Against The Machine - which goes without saying clearly accentuates that classic feel.
Overall this was a nice unexpected Christmas release for all the loyal RTJ fans, where through 14 records there’s definitely enough good material to satisfy their dedicated cult following. I’m not sure if this release has enough standouts to garner them any new fans however, yet even still it’s a cohesive project that plays with a purpose if nothing else. Salute to Killer Mike for being an incredible MC and salute to El-P for being an underground legend from the 90’s still putting out quality to this day, in the end this is simply more jewels for their catalogues.