The 10 Best Albums of 2013: No. 2 – Killer Mike & El-P’s ‘Run The Jewels’

12.18.13 4 years ago 59 Comments


My name is Michael Render
And we are the new Avengers
We’re here to tell you all your false idols are just pretenders
They’re corporation slaves indentured to all the lenders
So even if you got seven figures, you still a n***a

In 1964, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart made the following phrase, “I know it when I see it,” famous. The quote referred to the merits of a particular film and whether or not its sexually explicit material could be deemed pornographic, but it’s taken on a life of its own since Potter first mentioned it.

Fast-forward to 2013. Hip-Hop is everywhere, a genre brimming with talented lyricists capable of tearing microphones into ribbons. It’s hard to define exactly which qualities elevate one talent over another – it could be punctuality, it could be the tempo, it could be ability to paint a distinct and vibrant picture. But we know it when we hear it. And over the last 12 months, Run The Jewels have straight-up rapped their asses off, offering one of the best buddy albums in recent memory.

The group’s self-titled debut LP starts with a shotgun blast, conveniently named after the group that gives it such life. El-P and Killer Mike tear into El’s production with the kind of vigor and energy usually reserved for the best tandems in Hip-Hop history, passing the baton back and fourth in a manner sure to make the listener’s head spin.

“Acting brave and courageous ain’t advantageous for health and safety,” Mike rattles off. His claims met bars later by an El-P barrage: “With the pull of a pin a grenade get a crowd to they feet and a soul to its options/I’m a fool for the win I been made to be loud while these other cats drowning in softness.”

That’s just a swath of the introduction better known as a chest-thumping call to arms. In 10 tracks, the tandem traverses through hopeless, frustrated lows listeners immediately recognize as some of the realest sh*t circulating. Then they travel towards incredibly bombastic, put-wind-in-your-sales highs. Every song is a complete effort. Every beat is as crisp as it is sinister. Every bar delivers with a combination of swagger and vitriol. You can practically feel the saliva ricocheting through your ear buds.

Previously: The 10 Best Albums of 2013: No. 3 – Drake’s ‘Nothing Was The Same’ | The 10 Best Albums Of 2013: Part One (10-4)

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