Killer Mike and El-P Are… Run the Jewels
Killer Mike and El-P had banner years in 2012, starting with the release of Mike’s critically acclaimed and El-P produced R.A.P. Music that was soon followed by El-P’s own Cancer 4 Cure. The purest culmination of their collaboration, R.A.P. Music, was the best hip-hop album of 2012 and arguably the best record of the year. Each rapper pulled the best out of the other. El-P’s tendency to construct complex but busy beats was blunted by Mike’s booming delivery, powerful and brash enough to swipe even the most manic track from the jaws of chaos. As the album’s sole architect, El-P’s presence gave Mike’s album a consistent tone that his records have lacked in the past. Their chemistry was undeniable and it is no surprise that the duo reunited for another go-round.
The eponymous Run the Jewels positions itself as the rebellious, purse snatching counterpart to that other hip-hop pairing, but rhymes about wealth have been replaced with ones about being delinquents. Undercurrents of their individual political consciousnesses are present, but ultimately Run the Jewels is about Mike and El-P having fun, trading rhymes, and playing off of each other’s boasts of their own bravado. “Run the Jewels” is the best example of them tossing the mic back and forth, but “Do It” has been my favorite from day one.
Run the Jewels works so well because it gives the impression that Mike and El-P worked on the tracks together. Feature spots on rap records often feel like financial decisions rather than artistic ones and many times it’s easy to think that the track’s host didn’t know what his guest’s verse would be until it arrived by email (*cough* Jay-Z’s verse on “Never Let Me Down” *cough*). “Do It” features the kind of rolling, bass heavy beat that I love and a great pair of verses that you know had to be written with full knowledge of the other:
My name is Jaime Meline
I’m not chasing the green, I’m taking it
Bosses don’t change a thing in the name of seemingly making it
Servants’ll kiss the ring of whoever they think is paying ’em
You don’t deserve the spit that they hurdled up in your face and shit
My name is Michael Render
And we are the new Avengers
We’re here to tell you all your false idols are just pretenders
They’re corporation slaves indentured to all the lenders
So even if you got seven figures, you still a n****
At a compact 40 minutes and a price of free, Run the Jewels is the best deal of the summer. The only thing that I don’t like about it is the cover art, so I snagged alternatives created by superfan @sawbrey from El-P’s tumblr.