Sunday, 11 March 2018

Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels

I should have been much quicker off the mark with Run the Jewels; I’ve been a big fan of El-P for a while and have an awful lot of time for his I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead record. I was aware he was working on something called Run the Jewels from his regular stoned tweeting, but neglected checking it out for far too long (I think for a little while, I wasn't even sure what it was, let alone that it was music I should definitely have been excited about). Then I remember there being a video for A Christmas Fucking Miracle that appeared on Pitchfork one morning near Christmas in 2013, which I watched and was instantly floored. I cursed myself for being so lazy.

I looked into getting their album, but ended up putting it off for a few weeks. Then it sold out and I was gutted. A few months later it went back on sale through Ninja Tune’s UK store and I took the opportunity to order a copy as soon as possible. It's now very readily available, but I'm glad I didn't sleep on it for any longer.

I was very excited to hear the rest of the record and had a great time on the first listen. My initial thoughts were very similar to how I feel about the album now - it is a really great album, but A Christmas Fucking Miracle takes it up a notch or two. Little did I know that they'd then take the greatness of that song and turn it into two albums of songs of equal or greater brilliance. RTJ was the first time I heard Killer Mike, but had been a bit aware that El had produced his album not long beforehand. The combination of the two of them is one of the main things that makes RTJ so special, but everybody knows that. It's hard to say positive things about RTJ that haven't already been said, because over the last five years they've established themselves as one of the best rap acts around; everybody loves them, as everybody should.

One thing I can't recommend enough is sitting down with the album and reading the lyrics. I know it seems a remarkably boring thing to do, but I eventually did that with both RTJ1 and RTJ2 and it added so much to my experience. I started with RTJ2, as I'd had the mp3s for a little while before getting the vinyl - I knew the songs well, but reading the lyrics meant I had a far greater enjoyment. I then went back and did the same with RTJ1. I try to listen to what people are singing/rapping about in music, but sometimes it's hard not to just take it line-to-line - it's nice every now and again to make a conscious effort to take in the whole song and see what it's really about. Again, this has been said many a time, but these guys write some of the best raps I've ever heard.

Speaking of which, Banana Clipper has one of my favourite RTJ lyrics - "Producer gave me a beat / Said it's the beat of the year / I said El-P didn't do it / Get the fuck out of here". I distinctly remember them playing that one the first time I saw them at Primavera Sound and being relieved to find that everyone else thought it was worthy of shouting back (side note, both times I've seen RTJ have been so, so much fun). Other highlights on RTJ1 are 36" ChainSea Legs and, of course, A Christmas Fucking Miracle; the line "Still spell America with the triple K" is proving scarily true. As a huge fan of Lovage, it's nice to see Prince Paul revive his Chest Rockwell alter-ego on Twin Hype Back too.

The album is generally available with the same bonus disc as here (I think) featuring an extra song (Pew Pew Pew), a couple of remixes and the same again as instrumentals (but the mp3 download only includes the vocal versions) - I think initially there was a version with instrumentals of the whole album too. The remix of Sea Legs is particularly pleasing - the bassline is brought to the front to the point where it sounds like the horn of a large ship, appropriately given the song. On top of that, both discs are on a lovely clear vinyl with green splatter. I know it's a silly thing to get excited about, but I also like that it's a double LP so that it looks consistent alongside the following two album which are themselves double albums - it looks great in the racks.

At some point soon I'll have to learn some better adjectives to write appropriately about RTJ2 and RTJ3; I definitely can't describe them with sufficient praise with the words I currently know.

Format: Double 12", insert
Tracks: 16
Cost: £22 new
Bought: Ninja Tunes website
When: 18/05/14
Colour: Clear with green splatter
Etching: none
mp3s: Download code