INDECISIVE: "Run the Jewels" joins top albums of the year

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Two of last year’s most successful rappers have joined together for a project in 2013, and no — it’s not Kanye West and Jay-Z.

Killer Mike and El-P have recently released a free album called “Run The Jewels,” that follows both of their successful 2012 albums. Particularly Killer Mike’s outstanding “R.A.P. Music” with the help of production from El-P made its way into my top 10 albums of last year.

Now they are back working together, and it’s one hell of a ride.

While this project is a bit short, it packs a heavy punch when it is hitting. The differing styles of Killer Mike and El-P are evident, but the production by El-P and the chemistry between the two makes it work superbly.

Starting with the first track, it feels like each verse between the two is the progression of a friendly competition — but friendly isn’t exactly the word because both Killer Mike and El-P come out hungry on most of these tracks.

El-P keeps up verse for verse with Killer Mike being particularly vicious in the album’s opener rapping, “You wanna hang, bring your throat. I got stools and a rope. I’m a slang poet, haranguing the land with a man’s flow.”

Killer Mike steals the show on “Sea Legs” with a long verse that features some hilarious lines and some impressive internal rhyming. He raps, “I’m the reason the season for treason starts this evening. And this evening the odds ain’t even. People praying to the gods but the gods ain’t even listening. Don’t matter if you’re Muslim, Hebrew, Christian.”

This is the type of bite both El-P and Killer Mike carry throughout the album. And it goes along with some solid production from El-P. The album is sort of a combination of “R.A.P. Music” and El-P’s 2012 album “Cancer 4 Cure.” He retains some of the southern sounds he implemented when producing for El-P while bringing some of his traditional experimental side to the new collaboration. It doesn’t sound poor at all, but it’s not as interesting as his last two efforts.

It’s not as conceptually deep as either of El-P’s or Killer Mike’s last albums, but it wasn’t intended to either. It’s essentially a victory lap for the two after last year’s success, but it’s one victory lap that’s worth experiencing. And when the content does get a little deeper, it hits extremely well, especially on the track “DDFH.”

Sure, it’s riffing in a lot of the same ways “Watch the Throne” did, but it’s a better effort for a couple of reasons. First, the chemistry between Killer Mike and El-P is far more substantial than that of Kanye West and Jay-Z. Killer Mike even raps about a producer giving him a beat, claiming it was the beat of the year while he retorts if it’s not El-P’s then he doesn’t care. 

Secondly, it’s how hungry these two sound that make it such a special project. It’s a free album that the group put its best stuff toward and that says something about the two MCs.

One thing’s for sure, I’m already anticipating the next El-P and Killer Mike collaboration.


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