Run the Jewels 2 – Run the Jewels ★★★½

2014Run The Jewels 2Run The Jewels★★★½74Hip-Hop

Run the Jewels is such a consistent group that it’s hard trying to judge any of their albums against one another. They each have their big highlights. They each show Killer Mike and El-P’s growth as songwriters and producers. And they each have a few songs that aren’t bad, but that you could probably do without. 

On RTJ 2, those highlights are pretty clear, and come early on the record. The album’s opener is in-your-face energetic, and “On My Darling Don’t Cry” and “Blockbuster Night” somehow continue to build upon that intercity.  “Close Your Eyes” is a bit more traditionally structured song but you can’t help feeling like a total badass listening to it. Its beat is reminiscent of a heavy, steel door mechanical sliding open and slamming shut, and the song has some lyrics that you can’t help but say every time they come up. It’s an almost exhausting four-song run to start a record. 

The album is extremely fun most of the time, internationally over the top and bombastic, and almost always smart, or dumb in a clever, creative way.

If I had to add a bit of a descriptor to differentiate RTJ2 to their others, I’d say it’s probably Run The Jewels’ loudest record overall, and some of the goofiness on this record in particular isn’t replicated anywhere else. RTJ2 is also a little more one dimensional than their others, which makes it in my mind very slightly less fulfilling. 

Also, once you get past the first four tracks, the rest of the album takes a slight step down in quality and energy. Tracks like “Lie, Cheat, Steal,” “Early,” “Crown,” and “Angel Duster” are all good – and in a concert setting, this whole album rocks – but I don’t think they’re among the best RTJ tracks ever.  

If all you want to do is party and get hyped, this is the album for you. If you’re hoping for a bit more diversity or seriousness, some of RTJ’s others may better scratch that itch.

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