In 2013 Killer Mike and El-P smashed open the gate and released their self titled debut in a duo titled Run the Jewels. After the high standard set by their debut they’re solidify their status as one of hip hop’s best artists further with the sequel, “Run the Jewels 2”. Whereas their first album was a over a half hour of lyrical beat downs this effort slows it down a bit, looking inward while expanding on the formula established by their first album. The ferocity is still there, though more tempered and refined. Tracks like “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”, “Lie, Cheat, and Steal”, and “Close Your Eyes (And Count To F*ck*)” put technical ability at the forefront as El and Mike rapidly interchange rhymes abounding with sharp wit and tactical melody. Other tracks, such as “Early ft. Boots” or “Crown ft. Diane Coffee”, contain an abundance of social commentary and political statements. On “Crown” El raps from the perspective of a soldier, spouting bars like “Carried the flag in some other men’s name, loaded my weapon and swore to them vengeance and stepped with aggression right into the fray” that paint a beautifully bleak picture. While their first album had some political lyrics, “A Christmas F*cking Miracle” for example, this album is full of references to police brutality and seething discontent at the system.
In addition to his lyrical wizardry, El-P is again the producer on this album and the production is top notch as usual. Songs like “Angel Dust” provide a simple yet powerful backdrop for their lyrical wizardry throughout the album. The features are fabulous as well. Boots’ hook on “Early” is infectious and haunting, De La Rocha’s rapping on “Close Your Eyes” is potent and angry, as one might expect, and Travis Barker’s percussive contributions to “All Due Respect” hammers home the savagery of Killer Mike’s lightning fast delivery. The album’s weak points are few and far between. “All My Life”‘s hook isn’t quite as catchy as the album’s other choruses and Gangsta Boo’s verse on “Love Again” feels unnecessarily trite and explicit, but these are minor gripes as these songs are still extremely satisfying. Few rappers posses the abilities of Killer Mike and El-P, but together it seems they’re nothing short of unstoppable. Run The Jewels 2 succeeds every way, straddling accessibility, wit, and jaw-dropping lyricism in one masterfully performed record.