From an exciting side project to a staple of contemporary american Hip-Hop, Run the Jewels has brought back to rap an energy it had been missing since Method Man and Redman had stopped bouncing around after the Blackout 2. Run the Jewels are not the new america most blunted but the purveyor of a mix between the Atlanta bounce of the Atlantaean scene where Outkast and Killer Mike bloomed with the Industrial ruggedness on acid of El-P.
RTJ1 had established the duo enough to prepare their audience to the audio onslaught of RTJ2 where the bounce and the anti-authoritarian message of the duo had fully bloomed but on this third offering they decided to slow the pace down. Instead of coming back all guns blazing, RTJ 3 focuses its energy on the interaction between the duo around stripped down instrumentals with hooks made of syncopated vocal lines (Ticketron, Call vocal lines) or one note hooks (Talk to me, Everybody stay calm).
Overall RTJ 3 is its own beast with only two references made to its prestigious predecessor. First, on Panther like a panther (featuring Trina) with its bitchy chorus which calls back the sexy and provocative Love again (Akineleye back). Second, on A report to the shareholders / Kill your masters which recall Close your eyes (And Count to Fuck) because they both features Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine). Although these two songs will remind listeners of previous tracks, all four are quite distinctive and possess their own style but might rub fans the wrong way. Despite its more minimalist approach, RTJ 3 is almost a come back to the bleak and cold atmosphere of El-P‘s Fantastic damage where the Producer and rapper had stretched his style after having established the sample laden and blunted sound of Company Flow‘s first two releases.
For an album recorded in 2016, RTJ 3 is an album very influenced by its surrounding. With its Orwelian coldness and its slow pace in perfect contrast to the ecstatic sentiment displayed on RTJ 2‘s production. This is not the sound of a band ready to crawl back into the night, they are ready to strike with less violence but more precision. The regretful melody sung at the end of Thieves (screamed the ghost) (feat. Tunde Adebimpe) or the melancholic and meditative guitar melody of 2100 (feat. Boots) in stark contrast with the sharp edge of the track’s beat are some of the best exemple of the approach taken by the musicians. The song pass and leave less of an impact at first but they will all linger into your subconscious to call you back. Not a superior album, just a different one with it’s own attitude and definitely fitted to be the soundtrack of this depressing year.