‘Jewels’ Amongst Controversy

The second studio album by the rap duo Run the Jewels — entitled “Run the Jewels 2” — is unapologetic, vulgar and brutally blunt. While the album bares some of the common characteristics of gangster rap — misogyny, drugs, sex and violence — it distinguishes itself as an album with a message that demands to be heard.

This social commentary, which permeates every track on the album, blatantly calls out politicians, clergymen, policemen, abandoning fathers, etc.  Nobody’s safe from the wrath of El-P and Killer Mike. From the first track, “Jeopardy,” the overall tone of the album is established. A furious voice yells out, “I’m gonna bang this b*tch the f*ck out!” The song features a heavy melodic bass with percussive rhythms on top. Rapper Killer Mike sits behind the beat, giving the song a laid back feel. The track is vulgar, self-praising and indicative of the direction taken by the album.

The first single in the lineup, “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry,” suggests a gentle nature. Conversely, a fury of up-tempo house music erupts from the track. The song is essentially a denouncement of society and the rappers embrace a life full of sex, drugs and violence. “Style violent, give a f*ck if you deny it, kids.” No denying, the beat makes you move.

In the bass-swing infused “Blockbuster Nights Part 1,” the duo boldly calls out society’s elite.  “Like any tyrant murderer gets replaced, face it / The fellows at the top are likely rapists.” It’s crude and taboo. Run the Jewels isn’t afraid to say what they perceive to be the reality behind the powerful. The album progresses in its aggression with “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F*ck).” Killer Mike delivers a very in-your-face delivery of the lyrics, which condemn the justice system and police. The song calls for black unity to stand against the oppression at the hands of policemen and politicians.

The album takes a break from its characteristic aggressive, dance-oriented tracks in “All My Life.” Opening with harmonic crooning, essentially being the “eye of the storm.” “Lie, Cheat, Steal” throws listeners back into the musical storm. It reiterates the disparity in the hometowns and childhoods of these rappers. They, and many like them, were forced to resort to violence and thug life to survive. They are forgotten by society and their leaders. “Like who really run this? Like who really fund this?”

“Early” is one of the strongest tracks of the album, evoking the most emotion. It deviates from the album’s angry tone and tells the story of a somber man being wrongfully arrested in front of his wife and young son. “Love Again” on the other hand is particularly vile and frankly obscene. The song depicts wild sexual acts that is degrading to women and men.

The album comes to a conclusion in the climactic song, “Angel Duster.” The title is a reference to the drug PCP, commonly referred to as “angel dust.” The song cries that the world is a bad place, which leads people to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

The record as a whole is a vast improvement over the duo’s first studio album. The evolution of both music and content is evidenced by the rhythmic and melodic complexities inherent in each track. The obscenity sewn into the lyrics masks an abundance of social commentary below the surface aimed at the injustices of society experienced firsthand by RTJ.


ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You don’t mind obscene language and controversial topics.