FUCK THIS SLO MO!
Run The Jewels - 2014
I first discovered Killer Mike when his PIIIdge album was released in 2010. It was a politically charged record that showed off some of the most impressive rapping to come out of the South since the days of UGK and Outkast as rap royalty. But, surprisingly, I found myself ignoring it after the initial listening. Why? It was generic. Mike was a unique rapper that felt held down by traditional hi-hats and snares. Rapper-producer El-P, however, had the exact opposite problem that was hindering his career. He was too weird, his solo work and collaborations with Company Flow too strange and dystopian to ever break through into the mainstream, and his celebrated undergroud label, Def Jux, would collapse in 2011. For both these perenially underrated MCs, it looked like their luck had finally run out. Thank the lord for Adult Swim. Both Mike and El had done acting and music for the oddball comedy channel, and when they both expressed mutual admiration for each other in 2011, Adult Swim had them meet. The rest is hardcore hip-hop history.
GENRES: HIP-HOP, HARDCORE HIP HOP, EXPERIMENTAL HIP HOP
El and Mike have better chemistry then most rom-com couples, Mike providing the accessibility El struggled with while El provided the experimentation that Mike so badly needed to advance his career. El completely produced Mike's 2012 acclaimed solo record R.A.P. Music, and shortly after their joint tour, they decided to team up for a mini album, named after their group name, Run The Jewels. For the third time in two years (counting El's solo album Cancer 4 Cure, where Mike made three guest appearances), the release of a Run The Jewels-affiliated album was recieved very well. So they retreated to a house in the woods (Justin Vernon, anyone?) to record a bigger, badder, and more ambitious sequel to the first record. It's safe to say they hit the mark on all three of those goals. It's bigger (ten minutes longer counting essential bonus track Blockbuster Night Pt. 2, filled with interesting features such as noise-rap prodigy Wiki, legendary rock-rap MC Zach De La Rocha, and horrorcore queen Gangsta Boo), badder (the punchlines are still hilarious, and only get more gruesome this time around. "you can run backwards naked through a field of dicks" may be one of the great insults ever uttered) and more ambitious (instead of dicking around on all the tracks, as the second half of the album touches on sensitive topics, such as police brutality and racism) then both of them have ever been before. Separate, Killer Mike and El-P are two very good rappers. Together as Run The Jewels, they are the most memorable and progressive rap duo since the days of Outkast, and with RTJ2, they push the boundaries of hip-hop to the point where anyone who doesn't want to join in on their riot will probably get run over anyway.
Michael Di Gennaro ranks this as the
#1 favorite album of 2014