The Rickety Old Shack

Run The Jewels — Run The Jewels 3

Since casually dropping their self-titled debut, Run The Jewels have gone on to achieve a wholly unexpected level of fame and success — even in the context of a project featuring two respected veterans of the rap world in Killer Mike and El-P. Their follow-up, Run The Jewels 2 only further raised their profile as the due gelled even better than on their initial offering — solidifying a unique mix that struck a nerve in both the underground and mainstream scenes. As self-assured and, at times, profound, as the first album was, the second effort brought everything to another level and Run The Jewels 3 does exactly the same.

One hit record is something that eludes 99.9% of musicians throughout their entire careers, two hit records is effectively the same as lightning striking twice, and the fact that Run The Jewels 3 puts both those past efforts to shame is somewhat mind boggling. Furthermore, the fact that all 3 of these albums — and a remix album composed entirely with cat sounds — were all released entirely for free is truly absurd. While there was absolutely nothing wrong with the production quality on the previous two Run The Jewels albums, Run The Jewels 3 somewhow eclipses both of them in terms of pure audio production — this record sounds larger, cleaner, and more sonically powerful than both past efforts.

Complementing the expanded, deeper production quality are the continual improvements Killer Mike and El-P make as emcees. I wouldn't say these old dogs have learned any new tricks, rather their skills are more honed, sharper, and their rhymes as tight as ever. Tracks like "Call Ticketron" and "Panther Like a Panther" showcase examples of rapid fire delivery of lyrically dense material, not just mumbling conssonance and hoping the audience doesn't notice. Run The Jewels maintain a mixture of levity and Serious Social Commentary that manages to be both profound and yet not take itself too seriously, a real feat — especially to maintain over the course of 3 albums and nearly half-a-decade together.

I am as big a proponent of the first two Run The Jewels albums as you will find, and still Run The Jewels 3 manages to blow them out of the water. While I still recommend immersing yourself in all of the group's past efforts, Run The Jewels 3 is really something special — you should absolutely start there. Everything that makes Run The Jewels what it is can be found on this record, perfectly executed and audio engineered. From the self-assured swagger of "Talk To Me" and "Legend Has It," to the chilling reflection in "Thursday In The Danger Room," to the anti-authoritarian anger of "Report To The Shareholders" as the album closes, Run The Jewels deliver pathos and passion in equal measure.

Run The Jewels is the sort of project I classify as the poster child for happy accidents. It is difficult to envision an album even better than Run The Jewels 3, although I am pretty sure I said that following the release of both prior albums. For that reason, I will simply say that a better album than Run The Jewels 3 would be a surprise — one I welcome, and certainly cannot write-off given precedent. If, somehow, in 2017 you still have not acquainted yourself with Run The Jewels, I strongly suggest you do so — and this album is absolutely the place to start.

Summary

Since the album was leaked on Christmas Eve of 2016, this is my Album of the Year for last year. The official release date was in January of 2017, but that means it has to compete with my personal favourite band of all-time, so I'm trying to do these guys a favour. Seriously, though, Run The Jewels 3 is the goods, the real deal, whatever superlatives you feel appropriate. Run The Jewels keep outdoing themselves with each record and Run The Jewels 3 is easily their best work yet; I can't find a single problem with the album whatsoever — full marks across the board.

Album Information

Release date: December 24th, 2016
Record label: Independent

El-P — vocals, production
Killer Mike — vocals

Download / purchase @ RunTheJewels.net

Track Listing

  1. Down (feat. Joi)
  2. Talk To Me
  3. Legend Has It
  4. Call Ticketron
  5. Hey Kids (Bumaye) (feat. Danny Brown)
  6. Stay Gold
  7. Don't Get Captured
  8. Thieves! (Screamed The Ghost) (feat. Tunde Abebimpe)
  9. 2100 (feat. BOOTS)
  10. Panther Like A Panther (Miracle Mix) (feat. Trina)
  11. Everybody Stay Calm
  12. Oh Mama
  13. Thursday In The Danger Room (feat. Kamasi Washington)
  14. A Report To The Shareholders / Kill Your Masters

—by Derek

Published: January 15th, 2017