[FOREWARNING: THIS IS NOT A METAL ALBUM. NOR EVEN A RAP-METAL ALBUM—THANK FUCK!]
How much do I love Run the Jewels? If the adult love-child of Emma Watson and Kristen Stewart fed me curried potato and channa roti (Not that it’s a woman’s job to feed me!) while we watched Dawn of the Dead, it would come close. So, this is NOT an impartial review! Which means the bar is high. Too high for them to vault? Is it FUCK!
Pre-release singles “Yankee and the Brave” and “Ooh La La” predate the world going to Hell. The first is a nice teaser to a long-awaited album. The second is an anthem, an example of a killer song made even more unfuckwithable by its video portraying the joyous moment of a capitalist society’s downfall, people burning money and dancing in the streets. Will complications ensue? Doubtless, but enjoy the coup d’etat today at least. It’s also worth noting that it features DJ Premier which, in metal terms, is like having Adrian Smith do a guest-solo.
Hip hop can be justly accused of “overmining” classic soul and funk samples—that James Brown “funky-drummer” beat has certainly been done to death—but EL’s jams are more like a bad trip in a techno club. It’s no surprise that he contributed to Techno Animal’s “Brotherhood of the Bomb”. And those who think hiphop “isn’t real music” are directed to the glorious doom metal intro to “Walking In the Snow” and the luscious, emotionally-compelling sax on “A Few Words For the Firing Squad” before being told to fuck right off.
Elsewhere, there are some other brilliant cameos: Pairing the smooth of Pharrell Williams with the rage of Zach De La Rocha on “Ju$t” is sheer genius. “Look at these slave-owners posing on your dollar!” Elsewhere, “Pulling the Pin” features both soul legend Mavis Staples and Josh Homme of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age!
Meanwhile, “Out of Sight” manages to work in references to Ugly Kid Joe AND Public Enemy over a squelchy, GREASY, Atari game beat. Killer Mike’s bars here are phenomenal and guest-MC 2 Chainz doesn’t drop the ball when it’s handed to him.
“Goonies Vs. ET” belts the listener in the ear with a thuggish bass-line topped by, “Maybe, if I had another chance, I would give another chance to you./If I’d make another wish, I’d wish for you.” A dire statement about a nightmare world where we’ve been reduced to caring for ourselves and “our clan” at the expense of others. Meanwhile, the beat throbs like an angry demon’s cock before swelling into a furious lyrical ejaculation.
“Never Look Back” is so deeply-marinated in the “faux-soundtrack” horror vibes of Joel Grind, Zombi, and John Carpenter’s “Lost Themes” that you’ll open every door slowly while it’s playing.
While “Ooh LA LA” MAY be the best rap video ever, the aforementioned closer, “A Few Words For the Firing Squad (Radiation)” is rapidly becoming my favourite track on the album. A spiteful “fuck you” to the powers that be, layered over an ever-escalating jam and its impassioned sax solo lead into something resembling catharsis before doing a callback to “Yankee And the Brave” as some bizarre movie trailer. This is the 2020 album I was atheistically praying for and danged if it didn’t deliver. Physical media are released via BMG but, as with every album they’ve released, it’s available digitally for FREE via the link below.
Rating – 4.5/5