Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2

Mass Appeal Records, 2014

It's a tense time in the world. We are constantly inundated and bombarded by selected news and pop culture controversies with the lines between the two becoming more blurred. It's increasingly hard to tell what's important or to discern when real news descends into just another form of entertainment for those who live to be outraged. Surely, there must be a saviour somewhere in the midst of this chaos, waiting to save us from this madness?
Turns out, there are two. Killer Mike and El-P have been around for some time, and both are prolific in their own right. I was first fully introduced to El-P through the still mind-bending 2000 LP, Fantastic Damage, and Killer Mike through the politically searing 2012 release R.A.P. Music, which was produced by El-P. Their continued collaboration since R.A.P Music has been one of the most compelling things to happen in hip hop, blending Killer Mike's blistering yet deeply human verses and El-P's manic, maximalist production.
Run The Jewels 2 is a towering release, but it's also as much fun you are likely to have listening to a record that lyrically goes right up to your face, and musically sounds like an electronic hurricane. El-P has really become a master of sound; what other producers could have allowed to become abrasive or noxious he turns into something you can move to or blast full volume as you speed down a highway (my personal preference). 

The album's most instantly catchy banger has to be the Zach de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) assisted "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)". This is what Kanye West's Yeezus might have sounded like if it were fun. Here, and really the whole record, El-P and Killer Mike come out with all guns blazing. One of the most surprising and likeable tracks on Run The Jewels 2 is "Early" featuring Boots, who late last year gained praise for his work on the excellent Beyonce. It's a softer, dreamier and poppier moment on an otherwise frantic and jittery record, and serves as a nice palate cleanser for the end of the record.
Killer Mike serves as the heart and soul of this record. His verses are lacerating and deeply entrenched in the politics and racial tensions that continue to drive so much of the world he experiences. As a listener it is easy to dismiss these things as distant. However, Mike's delivery is so empathetic, clever and poignant, that it becomes hard to distance yourself from the harsh realities preached on this record. It's a call to action as much as it is a call to party. And for once, that weird endless cycle of commercialized outrage comes crashing into the context of real lives of ordinary people for a brief and near perfect 39 minutes.
Best For: Driving through the city with your windows down and obnoxiously blasting this on your speakers. People will think you are fun AND socially conscious!
Rating: 4.5/5


--Kenny Chatoor is former CJLO radio DJ and magazine contributor currently living in Ontario, "Yeah things are good, there is definitely nothing like CJLO in Toronto though, which is a bummer."