Ever since Killer Mike and El-P first came together on Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music they’ve been one of the most formidable duos working in hip hop. They’re clearly not content with their attempt to out-do other hip hop collaborations before on Run The Jewels, Run The Jewels 2 is the sound of Mike and El-P attempting to out-do even themselves.
Run The Jewels 2 is a blockbuster sequel to its predecessor, which features harder beats, more ear-eradicating, destructive bass and more outrageous proclamations from the duo. This time round the guests, such as Rage Against The Machine‘s Zac De La Rocha and Three Six Mafia‘s Gangsta Boo, are far more attuned to the spirit of the project, particularly the latter who delivers the record’s most delightfully filthy verse on ‘Love Again (Akinyele Black)’. The only weakness that it inherited from their debut is the occasionally underwhelming vocal hooks, the gaudy squeals of ‘Lie, Cheat Steal’ is the records only truly off-putting moment.
However, at its heart, Run The Jewels continues to be about Mike and El unfathomably brilliant chemistry, even if musical flourishes and guest act as an occasional interruption. It’s two awesome rappers rapping about being awesome, most evident on the endlessly quotable ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry – “My business card says you’re in luck/I do two things I rap and fuck.” However, Run The Jewels 2 isn’t just a victory lap for the rappers. The Boots featuring ‘Early’ is (aside from the Pacman sample) an intense track that sees the duo hitting out against police brutality, and Mike’s skill for storytelling is at its most poignant – “And I pray today ain’t the day that you drag me away/Right in front of my beautiful son.”
Mike’s boast that he and El-P have been a “top tag team for two summers” on ‘Jeopardy’, the albums slow-burning, sinister opener, is a claim he’s justified in making with two phenomenal records behind them. In fact, the only record that could take Run The Jewels 2 ‘s crown as the most audacious, potent, and ridiculous hip hop collaborative record around is Run The Jewels 3 (or perhaps Meow The Jewels).