Album Notes - Run the Jewels - RTJ4

Album Notes - Run the Jewels - RTJ4

June 13, 2020

Run the Jewels' fourth album arrived two days ahead of schedule and not a moment too soon. Originally slated for a June 5 release, an Instagram post from the duo's official account two days prior reads:

Fuck it, why wait.
The world is infested with bullshit so here's something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy. Stay safe and hopeful out there and thank you for giving 2 friends the chance to be heard and do what they love.

With sincere love and gratitude,
Jamie + Mike

Run the Jewels continue to be an anomaly for a number of reasons, none of which have anything to do with the fact that they are a black MC from Atlanta and a white producer/rapper from Brooklyn. Rare is the success of a true duo in the hip hop world. Even less frequent is when each one of an artist's first four albums surpasses its predecessor. And how many groups make socially conscious political statements that double as bangers? Yet that's exactly what RTJ4 is and how Killer Mike and El-P's partnership has developed. 

Despite being written in 2019, "prescient" is the wrong word to describe the record's lyrical content. It largely could have been penned in 2014, or 1992, or any other year dating back to the advent of the United States of America. Sadly, it's timeless in the most horrendous way possible. Pick out just about any line from "Walking in the Snow" and it's likely to resonate in the current climate, perhaps none more than Mike's verse just under two minutes in:

And everyday on the evening news they feed you fear for free
And you so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me
And till my voice goes from a shriek to whisper "I can't breathe"
And you sit there in the house on couch and watch it on TV
The most you give is a Twitter rant and call it a tragedy

It's no surprise the duo couldn't wait a couple extra days to release RTJ4. Not when the current description of America can be boiled down to two words, summed up as the title of track four: Holy Calamafuck.