Review Summary: Mediocre music by masterful musicians
Rappers routinely face a crucial decision after releasing a classic album: How long until putting out the next album" Should the artist(s) spend a long period of time to (hopefully) develop another classic" Or rush one out while their relevance and buzz is still at its peak" After Killer Mike and El-P combined to make 2012’s hip hop album of the year R.A.P. Music
, it seemed only a matter of time before the two would make another album together. The problem was that the time came too soon, and the result is a rushed effort that could only be given out for free rather than sold.
Run the Jewels
is, shockingly, the exact opposite of what you would expect from El-P and Killer Mike. As emcees, El-P and Killer Mike are known for their lyrical imagination and soulful message, respectively. Yet neither of these qualities are present on Run the Jewels
. What made R.A.P. Music
a successful record is that El-P rapped on only one track, complimenting Killer Mike’s style with better beats than anything Killer Mike had ever worked with. On Run The Jewels
you have two drastically different emcees. You could just imagine them scratching their heads in the studio, wondering what they are going to rap about. The southerner - NWA style of Killer Mike just doesn’t mesh well with the white guy who likes dystopian sci-fi. Killer Mike requires taking such politically charged topics seriously, whereas El-P creates a sort of fantasy with his lyrics that requires suspending your disbelief. As a result, this album has nine out of ten tracks that are focused almost solely on production, with very
shallow, banal and repetitive lyrics. The lyrics are too focused on the sound of the vocals and the rhyming of the words, with little to no effort devoted to the meaning of the phrases. The bottom line is if you are looking for any variety in lyrical topics in hip hop, this album is the last place to start, and any album by El-P or Killer Mike will be multiple times better.
The whole effort reeks of an album that was rushed to capture buzz from a previous release. From its consistently uninspired and pointless hooks like “do dope *** hoes. HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY.” to it’s unimaginative cheesy hooks “I get so hi—i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-igh I close my eye-i-i-i-i-i-i-eyes like I may die-i-i-i-i-i-ie”, this album is easily forgettable. Yet it’s the worst things in life that are often the hardest to forget, and after hearing recycled lines from albums as recent as R.A.P. Music
, such as “I move with the elegance of an African elephant” you will wish your brain had more room for repressed memories. The album only succeeds in it’s production, but not in any sort of soulful or unforgettable way, just another batch of flashy electronic beats you might have fun listening to at a party. The penultimate track “Twin Hype” gives the album a dose of much needed successful humor, but it doesn't do much else. The last track “a Christmas ***ing Miracle” is the only track with any emotion, yet the message of the final track is largely contradictory to the ridiculous topics touched on for nine tracks before this finale, giving the album a goofy and clumsy ending.
In one word, this album is “pretentious”. It dazzles you with beats to lull you to sleep and distract from the amateur lyricism, which doesn't appear amateurish until upon further inspection. In fact it sounds awesome, and it continues to sound awesome until you hit the wall that separates a hip hop fan from a pop fan: does this song have playback value more than a year from now" One year later, after replaying this album, the answer to every track except perhaps “A Christmas ***ing Miracle” is a resounding no.