“Run the Jewels 3,” a Hardcore Manifesto from 2016

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I never really got into the prior two Run the Jewels albums. They just weren’t my sort of hip-hop to listen to. I have never been a big fan of hardcore anything; hardcore rock, hardcore hip-hop, none of it ever connected with me much.

In 2015 I went to the FYF Music Festival in Los Angeles. Frank Ocean was scheduled to play, but he ended up canceling and Kanye West took his spot. Billed before Kanye was Run the Jewels. A good friend and I wanted to be at the very front for Kanye, so we had been preparing to move up and camp out for Kanye.

We got to see the Run the Jewels show fairly close, their red, flashing LED screens permanently seared on my mind. The show was energetic. The crowd was buzzing. People vibing to the deep bass sound waves, hands thrown up in the air, knees bending up and down. The show didn’t change my mind on Run the Jewels, but it did open my mind up to give them a spin if the time was pertinent.

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Run the Jewels performing at the FYF Music Festival in Los Angeles in 2015

Run the Jewels 3 is equally frenetic as their live performances. The hardcore sound that is thematic to any Run the Jewels album is still there. Expect big bass, boom-bap drums and chopped up samples on Run the Jewels 3.

Killer Mike remains political, particularly in a year  he was much more visible in the public eye. Backing Killer Mike’s strong political verses is hype man and producer, El-P. The chemistry between the two remains strong. El-P interjects and phrases at the right times, never awkwardly cutting into Killer Mike or forcibly pushing his presence onto a song El-P remains the modern hype man archetype.

The music and the lyrics come together to create a captivating, political album. Run the Jewels is Killer Mike and El-P continuing their yearly streak of dropping one of hip-hop’s most captivating albums.

Grade: B+

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