Three albums in and the question has to be asked: have El-P and Killer Mike lost their Midas touch? On RTJ3, all signs point to "hell no" being the answer.

"We return from the depths of the badland / With a gun and a knife in our waistband," hollers Killer Mike during Talk to Me, an early salvo punctuated by wailing sirens and waves of jet engine bass.

Later, the larger-than-life rapper calls himself a "rap terrorist," a "militant Michael" who "might go psycho". Scared? You should be.

It's a telling mission statement that sums up RTJ3, the punishing third album from Run the Jewels' deadly duo of Killer Mike and El-P that dials up the verbal dexterity and captivating aggression of RTJ 1 and 2 to new levels.


Much of their aggression seems aimed at America's political situation. "Went to war with the Devil and Shaytan / He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan," says a not so subtle El-P on Talk to Me.

The music, mostly comprised of El-P's dystopian noise-bombs, matches the lyrics. Check out Hey Kids, as El-P delivers lines like, "Better call mayday, baby I'll spray, I'm an AK," over spiralling synths and fist-in-the-air chants. When Danny Brown shows up, it goes into overdrive.

Elsewhere, Killer Mike smashes plates while El-P apologises to his mum on the future-funk rap workout Oh Mama, while the clanging subway pipes of Stay Gold sounds like they're rapping from an underground sewage systems like hip-hop Ninja Turtles.

Amidst their political fire, there are stupid rap anthems with gigantic hooks that let everyone in to enjoy the joke. Panther Like a Prince comes with a chorus so inappropriately catchy a six year could sing it. Mine does. He accidentally heard it playing in the car.

But that, surely, is the ultimate aim of RTJ3. They might have their evil eyes aimed at America's new president, but Killer Mike and El-P haven't forgotten to party while they're gearing up for war.

RTJ3 - Run the Jewels




Verbal firebombs prove duo are deadlier than ever