Run the Jewels’ last album dropped mere weeks after Donald Trump’s election victory. Now, the provocative rap duo return once again at a time when the world needs a soundtrack to a revolution more than ever. Recognizing this and releasing RTJ4 for free a couple of days early, the incendiary political commentary and spellbinding technical skill they are known for is on full display—now with an added layer of meaning. Especially as they drop some lyrics that tragically predicted recent events with upsetting specificity.
Part of what has always made RTJ so appealing is how much they balance their shockingly real takes on global politics with the charm and camaraderie that should come with a great rap duo, building each other up with increasingly outlandish punchlines. Instead, the songs that hit hardest in our current moment come when they throw aside the braggadocio and powerfully address the years of building social unrest since the last time we heard from them.
The impassioned “pugilistic linguistics” of Killer Mike and the dry sarcastic sneer of El-P issue some lyrical uppercuts as they thoroughly dissect and analyze topics ranging from the inadvertent harm done by faux-activists posturing on social media, their disgust with the erosion of truth, and slave masters on dollar bills, before Mike offers a harrowing verse from the perspective of a victim of police brutality. With an all-star roster of legends along for the ride, this is RTJ’s best and most poignant work yet.