El-P and Killer Mike are back with another dose of unapologetic hardcore underground hip-hop following on from their first Run the Jewels album which was released in June 2013. The duo first worked together on Killer Mike's critically acclaimed "R.A.P. Music" album which was entirely produced by El-P in 2012. Later that year Killer Mike appeared on the track "Tougher, Colder Killer" on El-P's "Cancer 4 Cure" album before working on the first Run the Jewels album. The first one was given away free as a download with a number of exclusive packages available for various different price ranges including all sorts of extras like t-shirts and signed posters. The album itself was a perfect combination of El-P and Mike's complex though provoking rhymes over El-P's beautifully chaotic soundscapes. Easily one of the best albums from recent years; original, creative and intelligent. Thankfully they are not content to sit on their laurels and after touring the first album hard they managed to create a second volume before going back in the road. The album is again a free download with a number of exclusive packages available and this time is being released on Mass Appeal Records. they have also announced a remix of "Run the Jewels 2" which will be released on Fool's Gold Records in 2015. They will also work on another remix project using entirely sounds recorded from cats, this one will be called "Meow the Jewels" which will feature production from Just Blaze, The Alchemist and Prince Paul with all proceeds going to charity.
The album is eleven track longs with no intermissions and a few guest spots.
The first track in the album is called "Jeopardy" and starts off with a vocal samples telling the listener that "I'm gonna bang this bitch the fuck out" and thats a pretty good description of the track. It starts off with a heavy bass line behind Mike's intricate rhymes as he tells us "The Jewels Runners, the top tag team for two summers". He goes on to show us how deep he can get when he makes the following comparison of his style "The passion of Pac, the depth of Nas, Circa '93, Mix the mind of Brad Jordan and Chuck D and find me, I spit with the diction of Malcolm or say Bun-B" The track evolves throughout reaching a crescendo by the time Mike hands the mic over to El-P who is also spittin' rhymes with an abrasive edge "Motherfuck your permission, it was never yours to begin with, and every bar of the bitch shit you spit is your prison, I've been here makin' raw shit and never asked to be lauded, Run the Jewels id the answer, your question "Whats Poppin?"" The second track on the album is the first single and is called "Oh my darling don't cry" which features another incredibly heavy bass line that would not be out of place on a Grime track. The speed of the rhyme delivery is faster on this track and the looped vocal sample used throughout gives it an interesting twist however halfway through the track the beat suddenly takes it's insanity to another levels completely before calming back down for the fade out.
Blockbuster night part 1 is the third track on the album and Mike kicks this one off to another killer El-P beat. Each emcee drops shorter verses on this one trading the mic back and forth over a marching beat. Mike takes the trophy for the dopest verse with the following gem "This Run the Jewels is murder, mayhem, melodic music, Psychotics use it then lose it, Junkies simply abuse it, thats word to Philip Seymor Hoffman, I'm pushin coffin, I probably smell like a pound when they put me in a coffin."
Zach De La Rocha joins Mike and El-P for the fourth track on the album, "Close your eyes". A beat made up of a vocal loop, a strong drum and some distorted electrical sample. Mike drops the first verse, El-P the second and Zach comes on for the finale. Track five is "All my Life" and it a has a slower beat then most of the album up to this point. Lyrically though neither emcee drops off, they keep on coming with the fast paced deep lyrics.
"Lie, Cheat, Steal" is the album's sixth joint and on this track El-P's production could album be called Grime if it weren't for the guitar samples during the chorus. However this is not a bad thing the track is deep and almost forces your to nod your head. El-P drops the first verse with aplomb and Mike comes in with a fast paced aggressive style that works well. "Early" is the 7th track on the album and features a guest appearance from Boots (rapper, singer, producer & musician who has worked with Beyonce). Boots drops the haunting vocals used in place of a chorus. Mike and El-P drops some more thought provoking lyrics touching on Police brutality and everyday struggle in modern society. A goos track with the nice addition of Boots' vocals.
Travis Barker joins the duo for the 8th track on the album, "All Due Respect". Travis brings some lovely percussion skills to the track providing crisp tight drums and some nice cowbells (more cowbells). Mike and El-P drops some deep lyrics with each emcee taking a verse then combining on some EPMD shit for the last verse. Dope track with Travis providing some heavy drums for the duo to spit over.
"Love Again" at first appears to be a typical sex laced rap track with the usual misogynist rhymes that we're used to from rappers these days and yes there is that element to it along with the lewd chorus. However Gangsta Boo jumps on board for the final verse and gives us the view of things from the female player. The beat is sick and sounds like El-P in Cannibal Ox mode which of course is a good thing.
The album's penultimate track is "Crown" featuring Diane Coffee. A more mellow joint musically with a slower tempo although the lyrics still come hard, with thought provoking rhymes covering subjects like religion, pregnancy, drug abuse, war and shame. The album finishes on another classic El-P beat with Mike and El-P dropping paranoia tainted rhymes. The beat is almost double time with some ominous organs providing the backdrop for their dark rhymes.
To summarise this is another classic album that sits nicely alongside their first album and their solo works. I enjoyed this album immensely; the beats and the rhymes are different to anything else out there. The tracks are original and the lyrics intelligent providing deep social commentary. And its free, what more could you ask for? A European tour? Well thats happening right now and seeing this performed live is well worth the cost of the ticket price. The thing I love most about this duo is not only their originality and their in depth lyrics but the fact that they originally come from two different arms of Hip-Hop (Indie NY and Down South Dirty) but their sounds work so perfectly together.