Two gold hands one in a fist one like a gun pointing at each other

Run The Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike) just sold-out the Express Live 3 weeks before the Hip Hop duo’s January 16th show in our fair city.

  Run the Jewels are resonating because the music is futuristic and they speak their minds. El-P and Killer Mike were in Ferguson the night of the Michael Brown verdict. They campaigned for Bernie Sanders.

So their latest album, RTJ3 is hitting an important stride at the beginning of 2017.

RTJ3 opens up with “Down” where Killer Mike states, “One time for the Freedom of Speech/ Two Times for the right to hold heat.” There is a refrain that says, “I could’ve died y’all.” Then El-P arrives demanding attention with bold statements, as one “who dodged his own lobotomy.”

Obviously there are multiple factors that lead to a musical act connecting with how a mass of people feel.

One could say Nirvana’s game-changing record; “Nevermind” was the culmination of punk rock’s rebuke of 80’s Republicans. Or 50 Cent knew when people just weren’t feeling Ja-Rule when he unleashed “Wanksta.” Or the moment when T-Paine knew auto-tune would be OK once strip clubs that embrace silicon breasts had become a factor in how records were broken.

After thinking about these cultural waves, one could wish that Kurt Cobain would’ve listened to enough Public Enemy to know COINTELPRO likes it when subversives kill themselves. I’m not saying the government killed Kurt Cobain.

This might seem out of place but I’m trying make this educational.

I’m saying RTJ has found the balance between hedonism and the need for the rebellious to propagate while hitting an important cultural relevance. Songs like “Call TIcketron” musically sounds like if a vibrator was synced to a human heart while commenting on climate change, and Killer Mike asking one’s intent while sitting with a “blunt and a beer.”

In the spirit of honest love for defiance of post-Truth America, I’ll admit the first two Run the Jewels full-lengths didn’t resonate with me. I thought it was for teens. They had this inspirational Fugazi positiveness meets true school Hip Hop Dilated People’s aura that I didn’t hate but wasn’t compelled to listen to. I want kids to get good grades while appreciating listening to “The One and Only” off Snoop Dog’s “Paid the Cost to Be the Boss.”

Not a diss: El-P was a parallel of himself not a parody.

The essence of Hip Hop production for the past 10 years is trap-gothic, sequenced with Kanye existing somewhere between Bill Moss old soul-sampling, and using Tri-Angle record’s producers.

This is what Hip Hop sounds like.

RTJ has the benefit of knowing their worth so giving the music away for free would prove the best strategy to connect with fans. I liked El-P’s work with Company Flow, Def Jux and solo stuff. I liked Killer Mike’s solo stuff, and his Dungeon Family material. I liked most efforts so I downloaded RTJ3.

However before RTJ3, I really only replayed “Love Again” and the video where they had a cop and teenager wrestle to show the pointlessness of police violence.

Aside from those joints, I felt it was more adult to listen to people rapping their age interest like Ye, Jeezy, Nas, 2Chainz and Plies.

The difference on RTJ3 for me? RTJ3 bumps.

I can tell you that I was involuntarily nodding my head, and rewinding lyrics at the beginning the record, and then later respecting El-P’s discussing deceased friends on “Thursday in the Danger Room.” towards the end.

Also, I read El-P’s twitter on Election Day, where he was standing in line to vote at 6 am while I was deciding if I was going to the bar before the polls.

El-P is easily the most cynical rap icon in the past 20 years. And he still was standing in line to presumably attempt to stop Trump. Throughout the album El-P seems to have a desire for serenity in existence however the song “Thieves” has RTJ warning that the abuse of power will lead to justice whether it’s riots or other twists of fate.

Not to be corny, but things like that are important.

So towards the end of RTJ3, when “Report To the Shareholders/ Kill Your Masters” played, I was either reading Bernie Sanders talk about his love of the community feel of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the self-regulating nature of youth sports in his latest book Our Revolution or wondering how the advertising near me could affect the immediate future.

It’s just where you think your brain should be without succumbing to dogmatic boring political posturing.

Over the course of RTJ3, Killer Mike and El-P rebuke devils, kick battle raps, speak odes to the women they love and discuss their everyday life experience like bribing TSA agents over a completely innovative but sonically engaging instrumental bed.

To properly misquote quote my favorite Heather B lyric, “RTJ3 is my kind of buddy Science nonfiction experience.”



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