Album Review – Run The Jewels’ ‘Run the Jewels 3’

run-the-jewels-3

Run The Jewels is hands down one of the best acts in hip hop music today. I remember coming across the duo pretty much by accident as I saw everyone talking about them and specifically their new album at the time Run the Jewels 2. From the very first listen of that album I was completely hooked to them. Of course I then went back to their first album and loved it too. You won’t find a much better duo in music than Killer Mike and El-P. These two are just a perfect fit for each other’s styles. Both just absolutely attack the music and bring 110% intensity to each second of the song. Not to mention their incorporation of metal, rock and other genres’ influences into their sound really makes them appealing to all music fans. As for the themes they tackle, nothing is off-limits. They can make you laugh (El-P in particular always drops some funny lines), but also offer thoughtful critical commentary that will inspire you to think deeper like on “Early” on RTJ 2. So after the masterpiece that was Run the Jewels 2, I was eager to hear how they would follow it up with Run the Jewels 3. And once again one of the best in hip hop deliver big.

One of the things you notice right away from the opening song “Down” is Run the Jewels 3 has a distinctive sci-fi, futuristic-like influence throughout it. This is combined with the duo’s usually heavy bass anchored sound. That rapid delivery that made me instantly love this duo is really exemplified on “Talk to Me.” The lyrics come at you like a firing machine gun and the deep bass line really gives the song punch. The album’s third single “Legend Has It” really shows off Run The Jewels’ swagger in both their delivery and lyrics. “Call Ticketron” features a really catchy synthetic beat that won’t be leaving you for a while after you hear it. Another excellent artist and rapper in Danny Brown joins RTJ on “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” and instantly became one of my favorites on the album. The contrast in Browns’ unique delivery and the duo’s heavier delivery play off each other well and I definitely wouldn’t complain about these three doing more songs together. The best moment on the album is when Killer Mike and El-P once again tackle police violence and society’s reactions to them with aplomb and intelligence on “Don’t Get Captured” and “Thieves (Screamed the Ghost).” Specifically on the latter the duo imagines all of the victims of police and system brutality rising from the dead and calling out the injustice committed against them. It’s the injustices of this system that not only cause needless deaths they explain, but riots and protests too.

A dystopian, chaotic future is imagined on “2100,” as Run The Jewels warns us that if the hate in the world continues we’ll all pay the ultimate price and that we need to come together to find peace. Run The Jewels drop one of their best beats I’ve ever heard from them on “Panther Like a Panther.” Electric bongo drums are the main instrumentation giving the song an eerily slick sound. One thing that needs pointed out is this album has some noticeable jazz influences in places, most notably on “Thursday in the Danger Room” where jazz musician Kamasi Washington plays saxophone. This song is about the duo both reflecting on deaths of close friends and not being able to ever really accept it, never letting their memory go. Killer Mike and El-P disappoint their mothers with their life choices on “Oh Mama.” The horn line really gives the song great energy. It should also be noted El-P hilariously blurts out, “Notice me, senpai!” The album really closes out with a bang in “A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters.” The duo takes aim once again at the evils of society, specifically the masters in part two of the song who ruin the lives of everyday people. A special guest also shows up by the end to take the song to an even higher level, but I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t heard it yet.

Run The Jewels delivers to the masses another fantastic record in Run the Jewels 3. I wouldn’t quite put it on the same exact level as Run the Jewels 2, as that album is a future classic in my mind and will be hard to top. But man do they come damn close in equaling it here. I’ll admit I wasn’t completely sold on the whole sci-fi sound at first, but after a couple more listens it really sank in. The production is near flawless and compliments the lyrics perfectly. As always Killer Mike and El-P drop awesome bars that will be sticking with me for a while. It’s really early, but I doubt there will be many hip hop records coming close to equalling or topping Run the Jewels 3 in 2017.

Grade: 9/10

 

Recommend? – Absolutely Yes!

Album Highlights: Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost) [feat. Tunde Adebimpe], Hey Kids (Bumaye) [feat. Danny Brown], A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters, Panther Like A Panther (Miracle Mix) [feat. Trina], Talk To Me, Legend Has It, 2100 (feat. BOOTS), Thursday in the Danger Room (feat. Kamasi Washington)

Bad Songs: None

Wallpaper: None


As they’ve done with all of their albums, you can download Run The Jewels 3 for free at their official site by clicking here.

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8 thoughts on “Album Review – Run The Jewels’ ‘Run the Jewels 3’

  1. Well I’m not sure how much attention this is going to get so I’ll say it – great review.

    I had plans to review this but I honestly just felt out of my element doing it, I’ve only recently really started to dig into hip-hop so maybe one day…

    Anyway, I agree about this not being as good as RTJ2, the best songs on that album don’t quite compare to the best songs here, but I also find RTJ3 to be more consistent as a whole. The only track I wasn’t quite sold on was “Stay Gold” but the final three tracks on this album are absolutely killer and certainly end the album with a bang.

    9/10 for me.

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    • I found it interesting when doing some research for this review of how different everyone ranks their albums. Like I saw someone said RTJ 1 was their favorite and RTJ 2 was their least favorite, where for me it’s the inverse. But that’s what is great about all three album: each are different and it essentially comes down to personal style taste. Their guest artist choices are fantastic on each too.

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      • Oh definitely, I mean all three albums are damn near masterpieces, and I really don’t think there’s any “wrong way” to rank them.

        I’d probably go RTJ2 > RTJ3 > RTJ1 but that’s just me. Either way this is definitely going to be hard to beat this year.

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  2. I absolutely agree that Run The Jewels are one of the best rap acts of this decade (alongside Kendrick Lamar, clipping., Sage Francis and perhaps Doomtree).

    Though I prefer their sophomore album modestly, perhaps because I was drawn into the savagery of the beats, this truly does make a hat trick of outstanding efforts. It’s definitely their most outspoken album and, with that, also their most left-of-field album from a production standpoint.

    I think “Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)” is going to particularly have staying power as an anthem for Black Lives Matter and all others yearning to have King’s dream fully realized. Lyrically, that’s the track that had the most impact with me, though “Thursday in the Danger Room” comes close in its own right in how personal it feels in telling the story behind the duo’s friendship. And from a musical standpoint, “Call Ticketron” was one of the more eclectic tracks that stood out.

    I actually think it’s fitting you have chosen to feature this review here, because it just proves how this album is closer to the storytelling/narrative tradition at the heart of country music than at least eight of every ten mainstream country albums since 2011 are. On that note, a striking reminder is necessary! ^__^

    I’m thinking a Light to Decent 9 out of 10 for this.

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    • Yeah the storytelling this duo creates with their music can’t be understated and as you said is closer to the heart of great country music than the majority of mainstream recently. Really in general the best hip hop and country share this in common.

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  3. Josh- Great first non-Country/Americana review! I’m a big fan of Run the Jewels and I think that, alongside Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book”, this was the best Hip-Hop album from the past year. Thanks for branching out and looking forward to more great reviews!

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