Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels 3

America was awfully naughty in 2016, and when Run the Jewels came to town last Christmas, what we got wasn’t quite a present under the tree. It was more a stick of dynamite in our stockings. The disorderly duo dropped their third LP on December 24 and not a moment too soon. In an election year filled with shameless ego stroking and literal dick-measuring contests, Killer Mike and El-P made damn sure they got the last word in.

Illustrator: Stevie Lacher

Illustrator: Stevie Lacher

Mike Render and Jaime Meline’s witty no-holds-barred lyricism is in full force here. RTJ refined threat making into an art form. The album unleashes volley after volley of weaponized syllables, wherein unabashed showboating tag-teams with not-so-subtle political commentary. This latest record is heavy on the latter. It seems RTJ has embraced their role as the 21st century incarnation of Rage Against the Machine. Rage’s Zach de la Rocha even joins the duo on the track “Kill Your Masters.” In between tales of sexual conquest and drug hustling, the twosome lurches at any opportunity to call out the oppressors. “My job is to fight for survival / In spite of these #AllLivesMatter-ass white folk,” Killer Mike raps in “Talk to Me.”

The bombastic beats that have come to define RTJ fire on all cylinders. The relentless recordings hit like an auditory mosh-pit. “Call Ticketron” perfectly showcases El-P’s airtight production in sync with the pair’s murderous flow, and the result is pure, unadulterated sonic carnage. This ruthless tone permeates the album from beginning-to-end. Music frequently evokes imagery, and if there’s one image that comes to mind when listening to Run the Jewels 3, it’s that of a giant middle finger.