RUN THE JEWELS – RTJ4
[RBC Records // June 3rd 2020 // All Formats]
It’s hard to even find the words to fathom the atrocious police brutality, murder, oppression and racism that is present the world over today, with Minneapolis, US being the epicentre of a problem that stretches back for centuries. 2020 has already been one of the most challenging and chaotic years in our generation, but right now the world has reached breaking point. Enough is enough as rational people are doing everything in their power to protest, raise money and spread awareness and education that the horrors of racism and oppression against black people must end now.
One of the greatest ways to make sense of such chaos is of course through great art – and it so happens that Run The Jewels, the US hip-hop duo of Killer Mike and El-P, have just gifted us with a poignant and perfectly timed work of art that effortlessly manages to encapsulate and help bring coherence to the world we are living in in the month of June, 2020. The first impression when listening to RTJ4 is that it doesn’t really feel like an album that was recorded between 2018-2019, because it is speaking so much volume right now. Few albums this year will be as instantly explosive as this one, with opener ‘Yankee & The Brave (Ep. 4)’ grabbing you immediately by the scruff of the neck and not letting go.
“I got one round left and a hundred cops outside,
I could shoot at them or put one between my eyes,
I chose the latter, it don’t matter, it ain’t suicide,
And if the news say it was that’s a goddamn lie,
I can’t let the pigs kill me, I got too much pride,
And I meant it when I said they’ll never take me alive”
Obviously RTJ4 is a record built on urgency, anger and a restless fury that couldn’t be curbed so much that Run The Jewels brought the release date on this album forward and released it for free. The one-two punch of ‘Holy Calamafuck’ into ‘Goonies Vs E.T.’ is fast-paced, visceral and intense, whether it’s EL-P’s beats that constantly pace forwards, or the duo’s vocals that speak with such hunger and confidence, like listening to a great podium speech. ‘JU$T’ feels like a protest rally in itself, inviting Pharrell Williams and Rage Against The Machine’s Zach De La Rocha to help drive home the chorus chant of “Look at all these slave masters posing on your dollar” – A sentiment that would make a fine picket slogan. But what really impresses about RTJ4 is that the duo manage to sound so politically charged and furious without actually sounding melancholic, downtrodden and defeated. Run The Jewels manage to hold up a mirror to a world bathing deep in horror, violence and injustice, and sound so confident, proud and even fun. RTJ4 addresses big issues and has a good time whilst doing it – from the playground chants of ‘Ooh La La’ to the trampoline bounce of ‘The Ground Below’, RTJ4 is that rare work of art that manages to capture the political zeitgeist and have us all shaking our booties whilst being so enlightened.
The hard to swallow pill is that it shouldn’t have taken ’til now for such powerful action to take place the world over, and June 2020 is merely a long overdue breaking point. Get educated, get reading, listen to what black people have to say, donate to BLM fundraisers, question authority, challenge ignorance and listen to Run The Jewels.
RTJ4 is available to listen to for free on the band’s own website, with sales proceeds being donated to charitable causes. Physical releases will be released later in the year through RBC Records.