By Kieran Graulich
If there were any rumors that anyone other Killer Mike and El-P were running the hip hop realm, they were quickly dispelled this past week when the duo, who came together in 2012 on Killer Mike’s LP “R.A.P Music,” dropped their second release under the name ‘Run the Jewels’ in a year.
Their first release together, the self titled “Run the Jewels,” was a gritty, angry, boastful, tough as nails collaboration that re-established the veteran rappers’ place in the world of hip hop. On their new album, “Run the Jewels 2,” the duo’s hunt for fuckboys and your women continues on a grander scale.
Perhaps “Run the Jewels 2” is the only appropriate name for this album, since the duo’s new effort sticks to the same formula and dynamic as their previous album, and it works just as well. “Run the Jewels 2” is just as powerful, fun and dirty as “Run the Jewels,” perhaps with a more diverse palate concerning features and production.
Whereas “Run the Jewels” was produced almost solely by El-P and Little Shalimir with very few featured rappers, “Run the Jewels 2” features a variety of featured artists and producers. Boots, Wilder Zoby, Zack de la Rocha, Travis Barker, Gangsta Boo and Diane Coffee all find their way onto “Run the Jewels 2.”
The duo’s ambition shows on this new album, along with new artists and producers, “Run the Jewels 2” features more layers, lyrical themes and experimentation than anything the duo have previously collaborated on.
Lyrical and musical expansion aside, Killer Mike and El-P pick up right where they left off on “Run the Jewels,” furthering their image as ruthless, womanizing killers. While exaggerated and served with tongue firmly in cheek, does not mean that Killer Mike and El-P don’t convince you that they are not ones to mess with: “You know your favorite rapper ain’t shit/And I might be the closest representation to God you might see” spits Killer Mike on the opening track “Jeopardy.” Much of these comments are in jest, yet one can’t help but somewhat believe them all the same.
Much of this album’s appeal comes from how enjoyable of a listen it is; however intimidating Killer Mike and El-P get on “Run the Jewels 2,” it’s clear that they’re having a ton of fun recording it. On songs like “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry” and “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck),” the duo’s energy and chemistry mixed with the blood pumping instrumentals makes “Run the Jewels 2” a rush of adrenaline and an undeniably fun listen. Could an album that features the line “You can all run backwards through a field of dicks” possibly be a boring listen?
However, this album can’t be written off as “mindless,” either. Amidst the disses and boasting, Killer Mike and El-P deliver some very clever and, sometimes, touching lines and stories, particularly on the song “Crown,” in which Killer Mike discusses the guilt he carries for selling a pregnant woman cocaine and the forgiveness he found years later.
It would be difficult to find a modern rap album as well balanced as “Run the Jewels 2,” one that carries the same sense of grit and anger while still offering thought provoking and clever lyrics. Paired with ear worm hooks and layered production, Killer Mike and El-P still run the rap game.
Kieran Graulich is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org