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Monday, July 1, 2013

Killer Mike & El-P - Run the Jewels - ALBUM REVIEW

GENRES: Hip-Hop, Experimental Hip-Hop, Electronic Hip-Hop, Hardcore Hip-Hop
TOP TRACKS: Run the Jewels, Banana Clipper, 36" Chain, DDFH, Sea Legs, Job Well Done, Get It, Twin Hype, A Christmas Fucking Miracle

DOWNLOAD THE ALBUM FOR FREE: Fool's Gold - Run The Jewels

Killer Mike and El-P the same dynamic team that brought us R.A.P. Music, one of the best hip-hop albums of 2012, are back and they have put together another dope album and even better they have released it for free to the public through the independent New York label, Fool's Gold. However, I strongly urge you to go to the link above and purchase either the cd version or the incredibly gorgeous vinyl packaging in order to support this incredibly talented hip-hop duo.

El-P has not been all that well-known but hopefully that will change after the release of this album. An incredibly talented producer and beatmaker, El-P shows that he is a pretty capable MC as well on this album. However, he is of course aided by Killer Mike who has been around as a solo MC for almost a decade. Hip-hop fans will recall him making his first appearance on the OutKast track, "Snappin and Trappin" from Stankonia. Since then, Killer Mike has represented Atlanta along with OutKast as one of the leading rappers from the city.

I was mildy excited for this project when I heard of its release, but I had no idea I would enjoy it this much. To be simple, this shit is hot. From start to finish, explosive beats, heavy instrumentation with some EDM characteristics, along with some awesome verses from Killer Mike and El-P make this one of the most surprising and best releases of the year so far.

El-P says it pretty clearly on the first track, "Oh shit what the hell have we done, it's alive and it's hungry as fuck". On this album, Killer Mike and El-P have created a monster. The beats are so incredibly hot and the verses are so aggressive but Killer Mike goes hard on just about all of his verses.

I really enjoyed the second track with Big Boi on it, "Banana Clipper". It has some INCREDIBLE instrumentals and of course Big Boi's raps make it better for an OutKast fan like myself. The instrumentals on "36' Inch Chain" are very interesting. The bass is very electronic and almost dancy. However, the tempo is a bit slower like a classic hip-hop type feel. To me, this is an excellent demonstration of crossing over genres which we all know is damn near impossible to do successfully but I think El-P did it with his production on this. I'm really a fan of that sound and I hope more producers and MC's take note. Absolutely incredible.

The two highlights on Run the Jewels are "DDFH" and "Sea Legs". The beat on "DDFH" is one of the best I've heard on a hip-hop track in recent memory. The lyrics and bars from Killer Mike are so tight and so determined. The chorus has a sick hook with even better instrumentals, not to mention Killer Mike yelling "Do dope, Fuck hoes!". Overall, awesome track.

The opening to "Sea Legs" is very ethereal. The sound of waves crushing down and very calm, high bass notes, and other mellows instrumentals are interrupted abruptly by the hot flow of El-P and eventually the beat picks up with him. Once again, the EDM instrumental-style really brings out the best in this song. I loved when these guys tried this on R.A.P. Music but I think they really emphasized it more on Run the Jewels. Because of this, this album may not be as accessible to casual hip-hop fans because it's very different. However, I think it works and die-hards will be amazed.

"Job Well Done" has the most aggressive beat. It's very bombastic and heavy. Killer Mike and El-P's verses definitely match the intensity of the beat. It takes a slight turn to the softer side during the choruses but it's still very energetic.

If I had to choose one track that I didn't care for, it would be "No Come Downn". Didn't hate this track, just wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I was the rest of this album. It might be the slower tempo, the more complacent sounding raps, and the lack of anything instrumentally that matches the rest of the album in its brilliance.

However, the beats and production on this album are next level. They sound incredible and I love just about everything about them. These two guys as MC's are also great. They are interesting, they have clear styles, and awesome flow. Still, I can't help but wish this album was a bit longer. It might sound selfish or bitchy of me to ask this from an already free album with so much incredible content but that's just me. I still love Run the Jewels and it's easily one of my favorite releases from 2013 so far.

FINAL SCORE: 9/10