With an ahead-of-schedule release on Christmas day, Run The Jewels 3 was one of the best stocking stuffers and ended 2016 with a proper bang. Tickets for their already announced nation-wide tour are sure to sell out now as the music will allow them to put on quite the performance. It’s astounding to think that it’s taken so long for RTJ to catch on, this album only adding on to their already stellar discography. Run the Jewels has had quite the journey from obscurity to world-wide tour sellouts, despite being a duo of two already successful artists. RTJ 3 sees the culmination of this odyssey as Killer Mike and El-P have put together their best collaboration yet.
RTJ 3 delivers the best of both worlds as far as production and writing/rapping is concerned. El-P orchestrates a host of exceptional beats while continuing to excel at his tried and true style of rapping. Killer Mike never disappoint when it comes to laying down some bars, and this album is of course no exception. His last verse on “Call Ticketron” is delivered so creatively and showcases his talent for writing superb verses that allow him to play around with styles. The lyrics throughout are both biting and witty, they address a great deal of topics from the usual critiques of society to what appears to be the group’s support of the gold standard on “Stay Gold.” RTJ 3 is truly about as complete as an album gets.
All of the production is spearheaded by none other than El-P himself, although there is a host of co-producer credits given. The usual Run the Jewels face-melting bass is present of course, and it’s paired perfectly with complimentary synths and drums like fine wine and fancy cheese. Elements of rock are present, especially on tracks like “Oh Mama” and “Talk to Me.” There’s also something to be said when various beats flow seamlessly into one another like “Down” into “Talk to Me” and “Legend Has It” to “Call Ticketron”; it’s very sonically pleasing and adds to the overall ‘total package’ feel that RTJ 3 has.
Production was never in question with the likes of El-P at the helm, and the rapping lives up to its lofty counterpart. El-P delivers his lines with his signature venom that compliments Killer Mike’s own hard-hitting delivery. The lyrics also continue the RTJ tradition of promoting social rebellion while trying to pull people out of the fog created by the media and our general social structure. Half of one song is even called “Kill Your Masters” and is the continuation of RTJ 2’s “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),” again featuring the assistance of Rage Against the Machine’s Zach de la Rocha. “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” references the wealthy, name dropping Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the Rothschilds with bumaye also translating from Congonese to ‘kill them’ (not so subtle, are we boys?). Those are just two of the topics; unjust law enforcement is addressed on “Don’t Get Captured” and “Thieves (Screamed the Ghost)” addresses criticism of riots and their true causes. El-P and Killer Mike were born to tackle these harsh topics, and the intensity of their rapping is perfectly suited for their subject matter. RTJ have ascended the throne of punk-rap with their third album, staking their claim in the industry as kings of the genre.
RTJ 3 is a statement that Run the Jewels have achieved their full potential; one could say that their power levels are definitely over 9000 at this point. While it seems like an end to a trilogy, there’s hope that the group will continue to put out projects of this quality. Perhaps the fate of the duo will become clear once they finish up with their headlining tour, but for now RTJ 3 is more than satisfactory. Download RTJ 3 for free here, stream it below, and stay tuned to True Too for all things hip hop.