Hip-Hop’s most exciting duo (El-P and Killer Mike) are back after little-to-no time at all following the success of last year’s ‘Run The Jewels’. A record full of brash, abrasive and above all, fun Hip-Hop songs. The LP basically had El-P on the production side dishing out beats that were noisy as hell, while they both competed lyrically over the top of them rapping as hard as they possibly could, with more clever wordplay than you could wave a stick at. So this year’s Run The Jewels 2 is basically the sequel to this, but not the disappointing kind of sequel, it ain’t no Ocean’s Twelve shit. This is their Godfather part 2, their Empire Strikes Back, their Terminator 2. It’s the sort of sequel that’s just…better.
This album seems (so far from the reaction on twitter) to be the album that will bring these two thirty-something year old rappers the success they deserve. Run The Jewels 2 is a showcase of perfect flow, INSANE wordplay, and beats that can become so noisy, yet layered and melodic. Killer Mike is at the forefront for the most part on this album with him having much more screen time. His rhymes are still the more direct ones out of the two rappers as he seems to be the entertainer, but his wordplay has definitely stepped up from the first album as you’ll now spend more time in your mind dissecting his rhymes than ever. El-P still really steals the show in terms of having rhymes that will honestly have you scratching your head to the point where you’ll have to spend hours on Rap Genius going through all of them. Whereas Killer Mike has the upper hand when it comes to him literally murdering some El-P’s beats with his flow such as on the songs ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’ and ‘Lie, Cheat,Steal’ which is two of the album highlights.
Honestly though, this album isn’t about competition. These two MCs rap around each other so unbelievably well that it’s hard to believe that they were ever doubted as a pair. This pair of rappers are capable of doing so much together as a duo that it’s ridiculous. They are capable of literally just showing off their abilities as MCs, just as much as they are capable of choosing to tell a story such as on the song ‘Crown’, which has Killer Mike talking about selling cocaine to a pregnant woman. They even speak out against police violence and injustice on many of the songs on here including the fantastic ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) which is one of the handful of brilliance collaborations on this LP. This song has a collaboration with Rage Against The Machine’s Zach De La Rocha and they mix his voice into the actual beat so it sounds brilliant. His verse on his own is also surprisingly brilliant and all together exhilarating.They use all of their collaborators brilliantly so that they don’t just sound like an outside force, they sound like they belong in the mix. Even the song ‘Love Again’ (which is a song that won’t be for everyone including myself, due to it’s lyrics and subject matter) is still done extremely well for what it is. Gangsta Boo appears on the chorus and her verse is so vulgar that it will make any man either blush or feel uncomfortable.
There’s not a single beat on this record that I can flaw, everything is so much more layered than the first record while still being so damn melodic and fun. Sometimes the only other contemporaries you could compare the sound to is an artist like Death Grips in that it has a more industrial flavour such as the Travis Barker collaboration ‘All Due Respect’. This being said they never sound overly in your face or too challenging, it still sounds unbelievably fun, like a more organised and melodic version of that sound (of course I’m not saying El-P took influence from Death Grips).
The one flaw on this album is the brutal sexual content on the song ‘Love Again’ like mentioned before, but even that is just down to taste and what you want from this album, many will love that song. Other than that this is easily the best Hip-Hop album of the year so far. They literally upped their game in every single way from the first LP, which was brilliant enough. If this project is these two rappers’ mid life crisis, then it’s the best possible sort.