RTJ2 is grown up gangster rap. These men give a damn and make indifference look embarrassing. They muse over politics and power with verses that are refreshingly original. The album is blunt and goes straight for the throat. In “Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck),” they place themselves on the inmate side of a prison riot; defending violence as a natural reaction to police brutality. Killer Mike spits, “even if some good ones die, fuck the lord will sort em” with no apologies.
The album was released simultaneously with Tag The Jewels, a street art initiative. Over thirty artists around the world created their interpretation of the album artwork, reinforcing a culture behind the music.
It’s no surprise that RTJ2 has a song dedicated to getting filthy in the bedroom. What is shocking is that it’s strangely progressive. “Love Again (Akinyele Back)” features the hook “dick in her mouth, dick in her mouth all day.” It’s seemingly conventional until Gangsta Boo’s verse tips the sexual power scale and flips the track into a feminist anthem; something unique in a hyper-masculine hip hop world.
“Angel Duster,” the final track, challenges listeners on perceptions of right and wrong. Mike unapologetically asserts that religion is a euphemism for control. El-P tags in with the paradox, “you want a whore with a white dress. I wanna wife in a thong.”
The balance of aggression and humor makes this album perfect for the morning commute. When the pair chant, “top of the morning, my fist to your face is fucking Folgers” I felt a little better about the crustiness of my morning waltz through the Tenderloin to Bart.
The two are the lyrical ying to each other’s yang. They tag team verses, building off of each other with an air of friendly competition. The album sounds like it was created to be heard live. It’s bittersweet that Run The Jewels will appear at the Mezzanine November 14 with RatKing & Despot. The show is officially sold out, but there’s always hope for Craigslist.
You can check out their live performance of “Early” featuring Boots on Letterman and download the album for free from their site.