Run The Jewels — RTJ4 — Album Review

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Hip Hop | Rap

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The dynamic duo that is Run The Jewels have been an artist that I’ve known and enjoyed for quite a while now. Having gotten fully into them in the era of their second album, 2014’s RTJ2, they proved to make up a piece of the soundtrack of my teenage years for sure. Furthermore, I think it’s safe to say that I definitely got into them at the right time.

But fast-forward to the start of 2020, and things still seemed to be hush from RTJ’s end. Of course, we had RTJ3 in the time between 2014 and now, but on top of that album still being released a considerable time ago, that being the end of 2016, I found RTJ3 to not quite live up to the strength and impact of the previous two full-length projects.

So with the appearance of a new album cycle a bit later into 2020, I found myself discovering the teasers through more skeptical eyes. I had an inkling of a feeling that perhaps I had grown out of the style that El-P and Killer Mike have been homing in on since their 2013 studio debut. But nevertheless, that didn’t stop their fourth studio project from being at least worth a shot.

It feels relieving to say that this album had succeeded in doing the one thing I was hoping for most in regards to the album, and that is re-sparking my enjoyment of the rap duo and their music. Stylistically, the album feels a lot truer to the earliest two projects than the likes of RTJ3, and feel that it was a brilliant way to ease people back into the kind of sound that they’d expect to hear from Run The Jewels. but as an added bonus, it took me back to the days where I enjoyed this group the most, and was a surefire way for me to like this album very swiftly.

While I would argue that the earlier half of this album still felt a little underwhelming in places, I felt that it was through the later part of RTJ4 that really picked things up, and made me feel like I was listening to a truly authentic Run The Jewels project.

What elevates the authenticity of this album even further is the abundance (but not over-saturation) of features, which includes the likes of Pharrel Williams, 2 Chainz, and yet another appearance from Rage Against The Machine’s Zack De La Rocha. We are also blessed with the same kind of gritty and vibrant production as any other RTJ album, along with the pair’s uncompromising and real attitudes.

It seemed to be apparent that this album was imminent either way, but the suddenness of its release, along with a few very relevant lyrics here and there suggested that this album was both tinkered with, and released early due to the current events with the Black Lives Matter movement. It should come as no surprise that Run The Jewels have shed light on racial inequality many times before in their music. however, this is arguably the most obvious example of an album made for the movement that I’ve heard thus far, and Run The Jewels just seem like the perfect artist to make something like this.

In fact, RTJ4 is the quintessential accompanying album for any future Black Lives Matter protest, and has the engagement and important lyricisms to really help listeners get radicalised, energised, and stick up to support those who need it most right now.

While the most important thing to come out of this movement is indeed the societal progression that comes as a result of everybody’s work to raise awareness and fight for basic rights, it also serves as the perfect moment for us to be blessed with a brand new Run The Jewels album after a considerable wait.

It’s safe to say, that Run The Jewels have musically arrived in the nick of time.

Favourite Tracks: holy calamafuck | JU$T | a few words for the firing squad (radiation)

Least Favourite Track: out of sight

Jewel Runners LLC | BMG

8/10

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My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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