Hip-hops most inimitable tag team, Southern kingpin Killer Mike and underground overlord El-P, team up once again for another serving of volatile smack talk, and this time around they’ve somehow gotten even angrier. They don’t waste any time letting you know it, either. The first thing you’ll hear on the new Run The Jewels album is Mike, getting himself hyped up in the studio, telling you exactly what his intentions for the rest of the album are. The message is clear: Run The Jewels are not messing around.
And yet, this is an album that never strays too far from the fact that rap can be pure and simple fun. El-P and Mike take evident pleasure in blowing out their wordplay to ridiculous extremes, with one particular highlight being El’s claim that he’ll “tea-bag a piranha tank” – to prove what point we may never know. Every insult, brag and boast on the album is delivered with an off-the-wall silliness and an intimidating grittiness all at the same time, and the ability to switch at will between the two is perhaps Run The Jewels’ greatest skill.
That isn’t to say they don’t have other skills on show here, because both MCs demonstrate countless different flows across these 11 tracks, with Mike’s double-time lyrical backflips on ‘All Due Respect’ being especially brutal. And the production has tightened up since the last album also, with El-P’s beats taking on a slower, scuzzier kind of lurch that seems somewhat indebted to horrorcore, but without the corny theatrics. It isn’t a coincidence that Run The Jewels 2 was released just before Halloween – Killer Mike and El-P have put together with this latest effort one of the scariest, slickest, and strongest hip-hop albums of the year.