It was a typical Sunday afternoon, I knew the drill. I woke up, way too late with what seemed to be one of my more problematic hang-overs of the year. Moment at which I was asking myself once again the infamous ‘Why?’ question. Ouch, it hurt. Pretty bad.
It didn’t take too long before I realized that I had an appointment coming up. An appointment for brunch at Steven and Magda’s – the names have been changed in order to respect their privacy – place. I climbed out of bed and headed into the shower. As if it was the last thing I would do.
Six hours, a wonderful Asian brunch, and a bottle of wine (each) later, Steven and Peter – fake name too – who had dropped by, were vividly discussing our favorite waste of time. Music. We were blasting our new finds through Steven’s Sonos sound system (I wonder if I get a freebie for this) and as real men we were trying to impress one another with the newest additions to our collections.
As usual, Steven would bring up several pieces of quite exotic balkan electro. Interesting, bizarre and perfectly suited for some round table dances. Fun! Me, I was again hopelessly stuck in a Ryan Adams frenzy and as a result was annoying everyone. But then it happened. It took me by surprise, by storm and by the balls. Peter put on a track from a duo I hadn’t heard of before, Run The Jewels they were called. And I got blown away. Really. Big time.
RAP / HIP HOP
I’m gonna admit it right away, I don’t know shit about rap nor hip hop. Or at least not a lot. I don’t even know if I should combine the words ‘rap’ and ‘hip hop’ in one sentence or if I’m committing a major crime by doing so. It’s a genre that rarely and too little gets my attention. Having a background on piano and classical guitar I always get drawn to melodies, something I tend to find lacking within rap.
Not that I am totally unaware of the genre though: I used to be a big fan of the Ninja Tune label, heavily hip hop influenced Stereo MC’s are heroes of mine and I am surely able to drop some names and classic tracks. I even have some favorites, they can be found in the little playlist below. Hereby undeniably hinting at my age and confirming that when my Enfnts Terribles colleagues refer to themselves as ‘the kids’ that they – once again – have forgotten about my existence. Still love them though.
But no, a ‘connaisseur’ of the hip hop and rap genre is a title that I would not be allowed to wear. Do consider me more as a careful and silent observer.
Run The Jewels
Back to Run The Jewels though, the band so explosively introduced to us by Peter. He grabbed our undivided attention and got on a roll. Track by track he convinced Steven & me and by the end of an hour of non-stop listening the group had gained two solid fans. And the second bottle was emptied. I believe we actually started to cuddle at that point. Mean mothafuckin’ gangsta rappers we were.
The week after, I thoroughly explored the oeuvre of this hip hop supergroup consisting of rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike and found out how these two guys who had been around for quite a while proved through their collaboration that 1 and 1 can really equal 3. Both ‘Run The Jewels 1‘ and ‘Run the Jewels 2‘ (great album titles!) were spot on and further thoroughly enlisted me as a member on their team. And as a fan of those spot on rhymes draped over them industrial beats.
Next to their rebellious and ‘our way or the high way’ attitude, the band appealed to me heavily through their solid sense of humour. Something they took to the next level in 2015. What started off as joke – establishing a selection of cat-centric rap songs – resulted through Kickstarter funding in an actual ‘Meow The Jewels‘ album. And quite frankly, an excellent one too. Never thought I would enjoy that much an album containing cat sounds. Thus proving that Albert Schweitzer was right when he stated that ‘There are two means of refuge from the misery of life – music and cats.’
Run the Jewels 3
And now there’s the new album. Originally scheduled to be released on January 13, the boys surprised us by dropping it on Christmas eve. Talking about a perfect present for under that tree.
‘RtJ 3‘ can be considered as a perfect follow-up and further progression of the previous albums.
A collection of tracks where it all comes together. The album has balls, dark beats and flow. Via its rhymes and rapping a firm and uncompromising middle finger is raised. RTJ is here and they won’t take no bullshit. But there is room for hope too, like in ‘2100‘ when Killer Mike raps ‘You defeat the devil when you hold onto hope’. Something worth confirming with a gaslighting orange millionaire with a short temper in charge very soon.
The record is beautifully consistent. It is a delivery by a band at the top of their game and grows on you every time you give it a spin. Picking favorite tracks proves to be impossible. It is great to hear Zach de La Rocha’s venomous rants on ‘A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters‘. ‘Call Ticketron‘ feels like little atoms getting shot at your head and I love playing the deep ‘Oh Mama‘ as loud as possible. I have very understanding neighbors.
But you know what? Discover it for yourself. And try to deny that Run The Jewels by now have deserved their spot within the top league of hip hop bands. I dare you.
Fellow Enfnts Terribles editor Alex, great guy, there’s no movie nor series he hasn’t seen (check his contribution about 2017 movie gems to watch) pointed out the following remix Run The Jewels did for Mike Snow. Listen to it. Now. It’s too good.