Vinyl Vlog 242

Vinyl Vlog 242

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017
COLUMN

Run the Jewels
RTJ3
photo: turntablelab.com

There was a period in the mid-2000s where I almost completely stopped listening to rap music. I don’t know if it was my ongoing exploration of punk, newly discovered love of folk, or what it was exactly, but I just couldn’t relate with the rap I was hearing on the radio or seeing on TV. Then, a conversation with Dillinger Four shed some light on the situation for me. As their bassist Paddy Costello would tell me, the overall quality of mainstream rap music has gone down to such an extent that we might as well stop paying attention to it. Like with all good art forms, you have to go to independent sources to get to the stuff that’s worthwhile.

Next thing you know I was listening to Aesop Rock, El-P, and Tribe Called Quest. I was able to pick out the interesting stuff from the garbage music and even appreciated early Wu-Tang Clan and (very) early Jay-Z.

Now, there’s a reason we don’t cover artists like Jay-Z, Kanye, or Kendrick Lamar on Ground Control, and that’s because we wouldn’t know where to start with such music: so removed from the masses and blasting from an ivory tower, sucking our souls like a sponge to stay alive. We try focus more on the interesting stuff here, and maybe the independent rap album to get the most attention this year is Run the Jewels’ third full length RTJ3.

Run the Jewels have never sounded better, and there is just so much that Killer Mike and El-P get right on their latest effort: the beats are interesting, the lyrics and contents are politically charged, El-P and Killer Mike work off each other like a team, and the tracks stick to your brain like glue. Most importantly, RTJ3 flows much better than any of their previous efforts: each song is discernable and unique and stands out all on its own, while at the same time the theme stays constant. RTJ also don’t play that tired game of inviting the same boring mainstream rappers on their albums (except for Danny Brown, who I need someone to explain to me in detail), so instead of an act steal the show, the guests here compliment the tracks. Bravo, boys.

Run the Jewels is another example that the rap scene is alive and well as long as you know where to look. Instead of slowing down, Run the Jewels keeps coming, and their latest effort might be one of the best albums of the year.

Get it from the band! 

 

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