Run The Jewels – RTJ3 (Album Review)

Christmas was a time for giving and Killer Mike and El-P had a little gift from Run the Jewels HQ for everyone; a third LP. RTJ3 released digitally, for free, and was by far the best present you could have received. Full of venomous rhymes, snarled over brutal beats making it clear that these two angry MC’s have their finger on the political pulse.

The political commentary throughout is well considered, with a level of balance amongst the clear anger these two feel for the current climate. Here, Run The Jewels separate themselves from the norm, with a rounded understanding and a perfectly valid anger. However, this does not replace the trademark audacious boasts of El-P or Killer Mike’s smoother than smooth flows.

As with the previous two parts of the RTJ trilogy, vocals are smooth and tight, both MC’s have a clear style that blends and contrasts perfectly to create tracks that have been expertly crafted. The selection of guest contributors is well considered with each guest slot perfectly complementing the audible chemistry and taking tracks to the next level. It is impossible to talk about the contributions without mentioning Zack De La Rocha spitting pure fire on ‘Kill Your Masters’ or Danny Brown’s slick contribution on ‘Hey Kids’.

Musically this is an example of incredible production and sampling with moods created instantly. There are some enormous beats within ‘Hey Kids’, the bassline is truly crushing and there is a haunting and almost dystopian quality to the opening of ‘Thieves’ and throughout ‘Don’t Get Captured’. However you look at this record it is a fine example of El-P’s prowess in producing incredible hip-hop sounds.

Moods are built up and changed with the ever present vocal attack and at times it is hard to tell whether it is the beat or vocal that is really leading a song. Even excluding the vocals from these tracks will leave a completely listenable record; unlike most in this genre the backing is as important as the vocal.

With back to back bangers, this record has to be an early contender for record of the year; I really can’t see any other release having such an important political message delivered so succinctly.

RTJ3 is out now digitally. Physical release on January 13th via Run The Jewels, Inc.

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