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‘Run the Jewels 3’ review: Killer Mike, El-P’s extraordinarily enjoyable album

"Run the Jewels 3" shows Killer Mike and El-P in top form. Credit: Run the Jewels Records

RUN THE JEWELS

“Run the Jewels 3”

THE GRADE A-

BOTTOM LINE Killer Mike and El-P rage hard against the machine and the state of the nation.

It became clear that Run the Jewels had graduated to bigger and better things when rapper Killer Mike started showing up as Sen. Bernie Sanders’ surrogate on the campaign trail.

Mike and Run the Jewels partner El-P have been one of hip-hop’s hardest-hitting duos since their first collaboration arrived in 2013. However, “Run the Jewels 3” (Run the Jewels) takes it all to the next level.

The journey culminates in the stunning finale “A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters,” where El-P and Mike trade increasingly angry verses about the world, before stepping aside for Zach de la Rocha’s final verse.

“Can’t contain the disdain for y’all demons,” raps El. “You talk clean and bomb hospitals, so I speak with the foulest mouth possible.”

Mike responds with a verse about the controversy he got tied up in during the Democratic convention and how El urged him to move forward. “El spits fire, I spit ether,” Mike rhymes. “We the gladiators that oppose all Caesars.”

The way their flows intertwine has only gotten better with age and practice, arriving at the point now where they attack the same issues equally well with differing approaches.

Though Mike’s thunderous voice always commands attention, it is often El’s groove-driven production that keeps things moving. The bounce on the sample-driven “Stay Gold” helps drive some relatively complicated ideas home by disguising them in a love song. The aggressive synths that fill “Don’t Get Captured” make Mike sound even more menacing, while the way he delivers rhymes double time on “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” makes you pay even more attention to his stream of images, even before Danny Brown arrives and wilds out.

It’s that kind of mastery that makes “Run the Jewels 3” a must-hear album that is also extraordinarily enjoyable.

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