Many people were not happy with the way things were going in the world – especially America – in 2016. Killer Mike and El-P, of Run The Jewels, were at the forefront of that sentiment. Run The Jewels has quickly leaped to the top of the hip hop mountain in terms of critical acclaim under the brilliant production of El-P and powerful vocals from the duo. On Killer Mike’s last solo project, R.A.P. Music, El-P had his production hands all over it, and it was easy to tell they were and still are a match made in heaven. They released collaboration records under the name, Run The Jewels, in both 2013 and 2014 that blew the hip hop community away.
Fast forward to 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected. The duo, huge Bernie Sanders supporters, meanwhile, were making a record. Naturally, when it finally dropped after periodic updates from El-P, it is very politically-charged. A lot of people were left distraught by 2016’s outcome, and RTJ knew that. That’s why they surprised music fans on Christmas Day with their new album that was originally slated for the second or third week of January. The world needed more Run The Jewels music, and they’re known for releasing their music on their website for free as well. A Christmas miracle.
I’ve always found it difficult to choose my favorite project of theirs with their first and second being so equally great. Needless to say, I, along with many others, had extremely high expectations. As singles like “Talk to Me,” “Legend Has It,” and “2100 (feat. BOOTS)” were released, it was clear they weren’t done yet.
RTJ3 is a good record. Absolutely. Some tracks feel as if they are going through the motions and know that they don’t have to put their heart in soul to each track to make a great album. There isn’t a track on here that I dislike, but there are some that just seem like Run The Jewels lite like “Legend Has It” and “Everybody Stay Calm.” However, some of my favorite RTJ tracks ever came from this project – “Oh Mama,” “Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix) [feat. Trina],” and “Down (feat. Joi).”
I think many people thought they’d coast to another album of the year crown (like RTJ2 received in 2014). I’m not sure that’s the case here. It’s my third favorite out of the three RTJ projects so far. Then again, with how incredible their first two are, that’s hardly an insult.
By: Dylan Swoyer