Album Review: Run The Jewels – RTJ4

Have you listened to this album? No? We suggest you should. It’s an important one and hoo boy, are you in for a ride. Run The Jewels are pretty special in their own right because they don’t hold back from what they think and scarily enough, some of the lyrics they wrote in 2019 for RTJ4, eerily suit what’s happening in the world right now.

With the #BlackLivesMatter protests happening as of late, it’s become apparent how many of us are turning to music for solace. There is so much uncertainty to how things will unfold in the next few months since 2020 seems to have fallen off of its tracks. We’re still living through a pandemic, innocent lives are being taken away (case in point, Rayshard Brooks being shot by police officers after their attempted arrest at a drive-thru restaurant) and people are still marching along to stop the racial injustice and violence that is happening right now towards BIPOC.

RTJ4 is an album that speaks the honest truth and its release has come at such a relevant time. The production of the album is amazing but the verses with its descriptive metaphors and imagery surrounding both capitalism and its history lessons are of utmost importance. There is so much passion and chemistry between El-P and Killer Mike, making them the duo of vocalising prominent issues in our society through the creation of hip-hop music.

The 39-minute record speaks in volumes and each word that is said in every lyric feels fitting in its own right. Take for example, “walking in the snow”. If you listen to Killer Mike’s verse, you feel so emotional thinking how these lyrics were written in 2019, and still resonate with the events that have happened/are happening right now.

The lyrics, “And every day on the evening news, they feed you fear for free
And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me
Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, “I can’t breathe” brings you chills and fear on how these lyrics happen to be about a recurring situation that happens to innocent BIPOC.

The ending track of RTJ4, “a few words for the firing squad (radiation)”, culminates everything the duo believe in and stand for, pushing their listeners to build a better society. In the off-chance that they happen to get into a situation where their beliefs have repercussions, this song is an opportunity for the duo to say their famous last words, imparting wisdom to the next generation of people who want to be the change they seek.

It’s honestly profound how this came about but that shouldn’t be a surprise when it comes to Run The Jewels. They are after all authentic when it comes to their words and the relevancy to their songs stands strong. Both El-P and Killer Mike are the important voices of the hip-hop scene and they’ve become an unstoppable force when it comes to their timeless songs about the world failing to stop history from repeating itself.

RTJ4 is a collection of songs that provide a cohesive narrative to what they believe in and is a continuation of the the duo’s powerful discography that encourages conversation towards issues that need to be voiced and heard.

Rating: ★★★★1/2

RTJ4 is out now through Jewel Runners/BMG

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