El-P and Killer Mike = Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels cover

This album is about a year old. I’m late as shit, again. So this won’t be a normal review, I just want to write my few critical thoughts down, highlight some stuff, and finish with a link. Here goes.

Run the Jewels is the second album that El-P and Killer Mike have made together. The first, R.A.P. Music, was really a Killer Mike album that El-P produced. Where that album featured just a few El-P verses, and sounded like El-P’s take on southern hip-hop, Run the Jewels is much more of a complete collaboration. El-P is a full partner who raps more and has much more creative input. Unfortunately, this didn’t create any better of an album.

R.A.P. Music’s problem was that Mike sometimes fell into a boring southern rapper mode, and, at these times, El-P obliged him with boring southern rap beats. Run the Jewels trades that affliction for boring El-P songs on boring El-P beats. Sea Legs, A Christmas Fucking Miracle, and Job Well Done all could have easily fit on El-P solo albums, and would have been skippable there just like they are here. At least Sea Legs has some of the energy that is sorely lacking from the plodding beats of the latter two songs, but all three have topics that are attacked so vaguely that listening for meaning is a tedious chore.

No Come Down also requires mentioning because Mike’s weirdo tale of drug-fueled hallucination-filled sex is the absolute WORST!

So with that complaining out of the way, let me explain why I still like Run the Jewels, and would recommend it. The good songs are mind-blowingly good! Killer Mike, while never wack, has still tremendously improved his writing, and El-P hasn’t sounded this good boasting since the Company Flow days. Most of these great songs aren’t about anything besides the rappers being better than everyone else, and that’s perfectly alright. Ddfh (do dope fuck hope) bucks that pattern by being both topical (the tough life that oppressed people live that leads them to drugs) and ill. On it, El-P raps:

Camouflage toughies’ll touch your tufts roughly
Fluff your flat permanent, lump you up ruthless
Then laugh while you’re humming the tune of bruised movements
That took a few too many tabs to prove lucid
(Everything compute?) Nah the truth is too tangled
And even a satellite sees at one angle
Burners radiate smoke ’till all’s motionless
Hope? Nah, ha ha, slow down with the jokin’ shit

And while it’s fun to hear to El-P just rap without a concept, Killer Mike’s greatness on these songs can’t be understated or eclipsed. Here’s some of his oh-so-disrespectful lyricism on Get It.

I exit stepping with my weapon with the Jefferson walk
If you expressing any objections you can get left in chalk
So my suggestion’s let a G be, forgive my transgressions
Or I’mma be in Catholic confessions professing depression
I’m chin checking, chill stressing, on your button I’m pressing
Mike’ll fuck a rapper’s life up like Mo’Nique did to Precious

Verdict: Run The Jewels is deeply flawed, but still worth listening to. The good half is just that tremendous. especially since it’s free

Highlights:

  1. Get It
  2. Ddfh
  3. Banana Clipper ft Big Boi

Download Run the Jewels and watch the rest of their videos

13 thoughts on “El-P and Killer Mike = Run the Jewels”

  1. I like this album/mixtape but in my opinion it comes nowhere near RAP Music. It is strange how I haven’t listened to this recently though, besides “Get It”. It seems like I liked more songs off of here though. For example, I liked those some songs that you didn’t like (“Job Well Done” etc.). This might also be because I am more accustomed to Southern rap that I didn’t find Killer Mike to be redundant, El-P on the other hand can be much too convuluded that I end up not liking his contributions sometimes on this disc and elsewhere. Check the review I put over on my site if you want to know what I think of each track specifically. Still, good review by being short and to the point.

    1. It was the vague topics that killed those songs. I didn’t even think that they had much of a southern rap influence. They sound a lot more like El-P’s solo songs. And yeah, El-P’s verses weren’t good in a lot of places. I still think I liked this better than R.A.P. Music though

  2. I listened to this like 5 times when it came out just to make sure I was right and I was, I hated it. I blame the production I thought it was horrible. Now if I didn’t like this will I not like rap music? The album mind T

    1. I think they sound pretty different, so you might still like RAP Music. Did you hate all the production here or were there any beats that you liked?

      1. No beats I liked haha. Maybe it’s my fault for expecting more boom bap or something from El-P but I really couldn’t stand this . Ok I’ll check out rap music thanks T

        1. Well T, El P has always had this weird production style and even though I like his recent style, I tried listening to his debut and it is completely inaccessible, lyrically and production wise.

          1. El-P is an investment, definitely, but a good one. His albums come with lyric sheets for a reason hehe. And his beats have boom-bap in a PE Bomb Squad way.

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