Run the Jewels 3 is an Energetically Defiant Hip-Hop Epic Unlike Any Other rival


Photo of Alex Motter’s hands by Alex Motter

Run The Jewels have returned with their third collaborative Album: “Run the Jewels 3.” The duo, made up of legendary underground-New York producer El-P and Georgia-emcee Killer Mike, have done the seemingly impossible by outdoing themselves and delivering one of the most socially and politically relevant hip-hop albums in years. We live in tumultuous times, and this album is a reflection of the turbulent atmosphere of our nation. El-P and Killer Mike speak on behalf of the working class and the trod on, delivering lines that challenge the corrupt and the oppressors of society with boisterous disdain. Rather than accept their lot in life, the duo viciously challenge the systems that they view as keeping common people subservient and in the dirt.

“Down,” the first track of the album, gradually brings the listener in and ominously hints at what is to come. The track recalls each artist’s past, where they came from and the hardships they endured. Whether it was selling drugs in Atlanta, or in the case of El-P, dealing with depression as a young, starving artist in New York, the opener is a celebration of how far they’ve both come. El-P’s production throughout the entire album is masterful. The instrumentation throughout the entire album is incredibly layered, so much so that even after many listens, it’s likely that one will find something new.

The next track, “Talk to Me” is one of the many songs where the group is at the height of bravado. The beat for this track can only be described as energetic, as Killer Mike at one point says “I told y’all suckers “¦ I told y’all on “˜RTJ1,’ then I told ya again on “˜RTJ2,’ and you still ain’t believe me. So here we go, “˜RTJ3.'” Some tracks that have a similar vibe are “Legend has it,” “Call Ticketron” and “Panther like a panther.” The chemistry between the two emcees is superb. These guys seamlessly trade bars with one another, building off each others’ energies and delivering lines that are simultaneously hilarious and chilling. A few standout lines include “I don’t know how to not spit like a lout / I’ll spill a pound of my kids on your couch” and “I hold the door for old ladies, run into fires and save babies / I went to school in the 80s, taking the train with the crazies.”

With that in mind, this album is so much more than an excuse for these two to be braggadocious or to boast throughout the whole project.

Instead, “Run the Jewels 3″ takes a sharp critical look at the injustices and hypocrisies that exist in the world, especially in the current socio-political atmosphere.

Mike has distinguished himself for years as one of the most prominent working figures in hip-hop. In reference to his meeting with Bernie Sanders in December 2015, Mike raps “Sat with potential presidents and said the p should be legal as reparations / For what this nation has done to my people.” On the track “2100” as well as “Thieves,” the group touches on riots, protests and police brutality, going as far as to sample an excerpt from a 60 minutes interview with Martin Luther King Jr.

On the final track, “A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters” Mike and El-P weave together an anthem that warns of the working class rebelling against those that are ostensibly the oppressors. The pain in Mike’s voice is palpable as he spits bars such as “It could all be over tomorrow, kill our masters and start again / But we know we all afraid, so we just simply cry and march again.” That frustration is used as a catalyst to deliver one of the greatest album closers I’ve heard in recent memory. If you’ve never heard of Run the Jewels, give this album a shot. If you’re familiar with the group, most definitely listen and support this project. If you think you don’t rap, I’d still highly recommend you give it a chance. I promise you’ll at least walk away having learned something new. 10/10.