Sunday 2 November 2014

Review of 'RTJ2' by Run the Jewels

There’s no place for heroes in hip hop. It’s a villain’s world and El-P and Killer Mike are out to be the meanest and most cartoonishly evil rappers in the history of the game.

 On their last record they were shooting poodles and beating the bottoms of feet. Now they’re back and sounding twice as mean, ready to take on the entire rap game. Why? Because they feel like it, and because they can.

‘You are the smoldering vessel of punishment born to do nothing but justify us

Insults on this album are delivered with impressive wit and disorientating speed. This is all backed up by El-P’s flamboyant production. The beats are even more colourful than on their debut, with one track sporting drumming from Travis Barker, another containing synths that sound like they’re straight out of Blade Runner. Everything is so hi-octane it’s difficult to know what to zone into. It’s like watching an explosion packed action movie in 3D.

However, beneath the theatrics there seems to be some depth too. This is not a Michael Bay blockbuster, but rather a Tarantino or a Scorsese hit.  ‘Love Again’ is so dirty and sexually explicit, it at first seems repulsive. However, on closer inspection it seems to be mocking the hypersexual attitudes of other rappers with Killer Mike referencing ‘alpha arrogance’, El-P taking his verse to almost rapey levels and guest star, Gangsta Boo, representing female sexuality more aggressively than any female rapper has dared or wanted to before.

Arguably, the amount of guest stars doesn’t quite give the record the two-people-vs-the-world feel that was so exciting on the band’s debut (which it's important to point out happened to be my favourite album of 2013). The debut also had novelty to it that this record obviously can’t achieve. However, RTJ2 makes up for these lacking components with more diverse instrumentation and an upped intensity. It's without a doubt the most thrilling, fun and cohesive album I’ve heard all year. Hell, Run the Jewels could well be in the running for this year’s top spot too.