There seems to be a recurring theme among the music of 2014 that’s left an impact on me — and it’s that of lifer’s still bringin’ it. Whether it’s The New Pornographers celebrating their own collaboration on Brill Bruisers, Spoon being unmistakably Spoon on They Want My Soul, or Mark Kozelik basically turning his entire life into a definitive album with Sun Kil Moon’s Benji, I’ve tended to gravitate towards (relative) old-timers still doing some of their best work. This has also transfered over into some of the favorite live performances I saw this year (The Replacements, Bob Mould), and this idea has even carried over into my favorite (and I’ll just be honest, only) hip-hop album I’ve listened to this year with Run The Jewels’ sequel to the 2013 El-P and Killer Mike collaboration.
Make no mistake about it, Run The Jewels is by no means a contended victory lap for hip-hop elderstatesman El and Mike, but a reaffirmation of the bone-crushing brutality that was seen on the first Run The Jewels release. There was a recent interview where El-P summed up that lyrically, him and Killer Mike are basically just trying to bait each other in to thinking of the funniest way to say “Fuck You” with their rhymes. And I think that pretty perfectly describes the playful vulgarity that these guys do so well, since after all there is a song on here called “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”. Which might already be one of my favorite song titles ever, not to mention the fact that the song is an ass-kicking barn-burner, even despite (or possibly because of) it’s liberal use of that dude from Rage Against The Machine.
But this also isn’t just another fast and furious collection of crunchy immediacy like the first Run The Jewels, as it it expands it’s scope a little bit and even runs a little deeper and more personal. The song “Early” stands out in particular not just for El-P’s spacey production, but also for Killer Mike’s harrowing recount of a run-in with a police officer in front of his wife and kids, and the album often sees them similarly stepping back with something a little more restrained but just as passionate. Also, I’ll admit the sex-crazed 2 Live Crew tribute “Love Again” isn’t really for me, though I do admire it’s gender role reversals. But I suppose it’s just nice to hear an album that for the most part gets me excited about a genre I rarely pay attention to anymore. Because if I’m being honest, I’m pretty comfortable with not caring much about hip-hop at this point, though I find it hard not to be affected by seeing two pro’s unleashing such an all-out attack on what is supposedly a young man’s game.
Favorite Tracks: “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”, “Lie, Cheat, Steal”, “Early”