by Run the Jewels
Released June 3, 2020 via Jewel Runners / BMG
Reviewed June 14, 2020
Top tracks (based on community voting)
walking in the snow (42%), a few words for the firing squad (40%), JU$T (31%)
With their fourth album, RTJ4, the Atlanta/Brooklyn duo continue to enlighten the masses with their social commentary in the form of slappies. Like a plate of Chicken and Waffles, El-P and Killer Mike continue to show dominance on the mic. Their aggressive style is perfect, given the current climate. “Walking In The Snow” makes it impossible to be unaware as everyone is called on their bullshit. Run The Jewels has no time for complacency, and I’m happy it’s being said. I could make similar statements about almost every song on this project. These two get it and are a living example of how two different individuals, from different cities, can bond over one common form of expression. Rant aside, let’s get back to the musical commentary.
Lyrically, every word is calculated, annunciated, and executed. The two rode each beat like a cowboy on a bull in a china shop. Production was top tier as per usual; the beats were intricate and sonically pleasing, but not so much as to overshadow the impressive lyrics being spoken.
I don’t have any complaints about this project. Run The Jewels do a great job of slightly adapting their style to fit with modern times. Even while they adjust, it’s always evident who’s in your ear. I love their style, effort, and delivery. They don’t shit out projects for a check, which I can always respect. This album is comparable to their previous three, which is the best compliment I can give them, and the only one they need. – Daniel (9/10)
The explosive duo of Killer Mike and El-P return with their most direct and political record yet with RTJ4. Reflecting on the police state, the current civil unrest in America, and the history that led us here, Run the Jewels deliver sharp lyrical observations backed by some strong production. Not their best work, but certainly their most culturally relevant yet. – Dominick (8.5/10)
Run the Jewels is the best rap duo since Outkast. It’s always exciting awaiting a new release from them, because they always find a way to make each installment in this series unique and it seems like their chemistry only improves. On their fourth release, we get a fist to the face in terms of instrumentals and lyricism. They’ve always been political and observant, but it feels like this is the most straightforward and reflective yet. They don’t let up, from Killer Mike’s brilliant breakdowns of black existence in a primarily white society with a junkyard dog flow, to El-P with some of his most industrial beats to date and his knack for crafting something catchy from behind the boards. RTJ4 is just a constant barrage of heady lyrics, hard instrumentals, diverse flows and fun interplay. Though there’s a few songs that don’t quite hit their full potential, this is another essential release from RTJ and it was never more needed than now. – Jared (8.5/10)
Killer Mike and El-P do not miss. Their consistent run of rap records - RTJ1 to RTJ4, and beyond - will go down as a feat unmatched in the landscape of the 2010's Hip-Hop scene. Brooklyn meets Atlanta, to unite the most forthright pairing in the world of contemporary music. You know what you're going to get with the RTJ crew - El's experimental edge and Mike's straight for the jugular approach needs no introduction. RTJ4 can come off a bit mechanical at times, in comparison to the previous outings, but it’d be a mistake to think that RTJ have taken their foot off the gas. They’ve created a partnership that will stand the test of time. Hip-Hop legends the likes of Pharrell and DJ Premier have now run the jewels - a significant moment in the trajectory of the RTJ catalogue. – Peter (7.5/10)
The chemistry is there, Killer Mike does great, but all in all, a lot of elements of this feel grating – especially when it comes to much of El-P’s lyrics and delivery. The production is also very hit (“JU$T”) or miss (“the ground below”), which feels like a step back from El-P’s work on albums like R.A.P. Music, The Cold Vein, and more. To be frank, a lot of this album feels very...corporate? The duo is not saying anything daring or new, but yet they’re patting themselves on the back for it. Ironically, one of the album’s most notable flaws comes in its best attribute – its features. Time and time again, guests like 2 Chainz, Pharrell, and others, overshadow the duo. And it’s never a good sign when the brightest parts of your album are the features. There are relatively high highs, but for the most part, RTJ4 is nothing new. – Alan (6.8/10)
Dominick: 9/10 | Hadley: 9/10 | Daniel: 8.8/10 | Jared: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8/10
Cam: 7.5/10 | DeVán: 7/10 | Enth: 7/10 | Peter: 7/10 | Alan: 6.8/10