This is one of the few albums I have replayed immediately after finishing it the first time. I think I listened to The Physical World by Death From Above three times, but well um... RTJ4!
Killer Mike and El-P are the most consistent artists out there right now. Every tease, drop, tweet, even IG post is something special. They are both listeners. They listen, read, and evaluate everything that is going on in the world around them. Sure, socially conscious rappers are nothing new by any means, but there's always something so timely about a Run the Jewels album release. In 2016 it was Christmas Day when RTJ3 dropped, immediately after one of the worst election seasons in the history of the country. Now here we have RTJ4 which falls in one of the worst times our country has ever seen. Protests for basic human rights, looting, police brutality, racism, and bigotry all flooding the States (far from United) over the course of just a few months. This has of course been nothing new, but tensions are higher than ever and like a handful of people I have no idea what will happen next.
RTJ4 is one of the best album drops in history. I think this is an album a lot of us needed to hear. They had been teasing their fourth album for a while now and dropped Yankee and the Brave ep 4 as well as Ooh La La earlier that year so we knew what was coming. Yet, we didn't.
Everything I adore about Run the Jewels is front and center here. El's production is the best it has ever been. Some of my favorite beats on the entire record include Out of Sight, Walking in the Snow, The Ground Below, and Pulling the Pin. The production makes the overall feel of RTJ4 seem aggressive, punchy, and fiery. It's so damn good.
Normally El and Mike are pretty neck and neck when it comes to lyrics and delivery, but man Mike won this round. He has never sounded more charismatic and fiery. Walking in the Snow is probably the best performance he has ever done. This isn't to say the El doesn't shine on here either. He is really funny on this album. I damn near lost it when he said he just about mcfucking had it. Speaking of goofy, 2 Chainz with "I'll buy a hot dog stand if I'm trying to be frank" BARS!!
The guest appearances are also fantastic. Most notably is 2 Chainz and Zach De La Rocha who consistently kills it on RTJ features (Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck). Pharrell was super unexpected, but dope and if I had one small critique of this 'as close to perfect as you can get album' it would be to have a bigger Josh Homme and Gangsta Boo feature.
Then we get to A Few Words for the Firing Squad. The perfect closer. In my eyes, RTJ albums always kind of end abruptly, but this is the best way they could've executed their grand finale. It is angry, politically enraged, aggressive, emotional, and has the Travis Scott effect of giving me goosebumps every time I listen. The slow buildup towards what is proving to be an explosion of sounds and fiery delivery does a full 180 halfway through and just stops. Then EXPLODES with the same pounding beat and a beautiful blend of saxophone to top it off.
Run the Jewels 4 is the group's magnum opus. It is their MBDTF, their To Pimp a Butterfly, their Illmatic. You get the picture. I could not think of a more culturally relevant time to drop this thing. It is beautiful to say the least.