Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Run the Jewels

  • Run the Jewels [Fool's Gold, 2013] *
  • Run the Jewels 2 [Mass Appeal, 2014] **
  • RTJ3 [self-released, 2017] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Run the Jewels [Fool's Gold, 2013]
Beats ain't black or white, hard ain't black or white, sexism ain't black or white, etc. ("A Christmas Fucking Miracle," "She's Mine Pt 2") *

Run the Jewels 2 [Mass Appeal, 2014]
Peace to Killer Mike, Bing his Ferguson speech please, but I've been around too long to let a corticosteroid abuser like El-P get in my face about right and wrong ("Early," "Angel Duster") **

RTJ3 [self-released, 2017]
"Fear's been law for so long that rage feels like therapy," raps lost angry man El-P as if it just occurred to him. In fact, of course, rage has been the heart of his art since Company Flow, and rage is what his NYC-Atlanta duo was selling to the testosterone-stoked alt-rap subculture when it launched in 2013. True, they were funny about it, and Killer Mike added some give to the hard beats by sounding preacherly even when advocating atheism. And now, three albums into what was supposed to be a one-off, public acclaim, economic security, and the historical moment have transformed them--they're funnier, hookier, and kinder as well as brainier and more political. From Mike's opening "I hope, I hope, I hope with the highest of hopes" to El-P's culminating "You talk clean and bomb hospitals/I speak with the foulest mouth possible," they transform the Bernie love that turned Mike into an election-year player into a call for resistance. In a time when street rebellions are one inevitable response to DT's inevitable atrocities, we need somebody quoting MLK loud and clear: "A riot is the language of the unheard." So if Mike wants to waves his supposed "banana dick" in the process, all we can say is yes, we have no objections. A-