Review Summary: It's Killler Mike and El-P? Fuck, boys! [i]Think about it.[/i]
After 2012’s dual triumphs with Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music, it was practically impossible to not be excited when news of El-P and Killer Mike’s collaborative project, Run the Jewels, made its way to the internet. Although El-P produced the entirety of R.A.P. Music and neither album left much to be desired, the full potential of how well the two complimented each other (that is: both rapping over El-P‘s beats) was only hinted at (with “Tougher Colder” from Cancer 4 Cure and “Butane” from R.A.P. Music). So it’s only fitting that we’re finally treated to a full-on collective effort (quite the exaggeration but one feels the same regardless). After all, it would be almost stupid not to capitalize on that kind of momentum.
If only a minor disclaimer were to be offered, it’s that that: a) this album is available for free download (unlike both Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music) and b) judging by the release date alone, it was “rushed.” These points considered, one shouldn’t hold Run the Jewels to the same standards of either of the members’ previous solo outings but rather treat it like a fun one-off recording session between two friends with a ***load of chemistry.
It’s true that if one were put into the infamous “desert island” scenario, it would be hard to imagine them taking Run the Jewels with them instead of Cancer 4 Cure or R.A.P. Music. In the same sense, it’s hard to imagine a lyrical virtuoso like El-P committing lines like “I slap and I suck clits” to tape. But that’s alright. As someone wrote in the “Soundoff” section of this very site, every track is a banger.
As much as I hate to say it, Killer Mike’s recent success is pretty much a piggybacking of El-P’s already-established sound but just like it’s refreshing to hear him break free from the tired “Atlanta” mold, it’s also great to hear the characteristically gloomy El-P having so much fun. Take, for instance, “Banana Clipper,” which features a guest spot from Big Boi; while there’s nothing wrong with his verse, it’s delightful to see how much Killer Mike outshines his former Outkast affiliate in his own arena. Big Boi sounds like...well, how he always sounds, but Killer Mike just plain flows over the beat. The track serves as a testament of how far Mike has come; instead of just being able to brag about being on a few Outkast tracks from years back, he’s made his own name now. As any listener familiar with his history would, you can’t help but to cheer for him.
As far as the rest of the album goes, the same types of inappropriate buzzwords are sure to be lavished onto to the production by the music press. I haven’t actually checked but, as reviews of Run the Jewels become more numerous, we’re sure to hear that damned “dystopian” descriptor again; maybe we'll even get "Orwellian" this time around. Yes. It is dark I suppose but I can’t recall an El-P beat that has ever sounded so positively anthemic as the title track and it sure would be a shame if, on future releases, we’re not treated to some more soulful live guitar like that of “A Christmas ***ing Miracle.” Excellent choice on that one, El-P. While we were already convinced that you’re miles ahead of the dime-a-dozen-soul-sampling producers, it’s nice to know you’re not a complete cyborg either.