Run the Jewels 2’ finds Killer Mike and El-P going even grittier

Max Plenke

Three and a half stars

Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 2

Run the Jewels 2 is the caffeinated wildebeest rampaging through the sewers of rap. Its horns are dipped in the lyricism of Atlanta’s Killer Mike, first brought to subwoofers as the crusty shotgun featured in OutKast’s 2000 “Snappin’ and Trappin’.” Its locomotion is New York rapper/producer El-P, King Kong of the Definitive Jux record label, the occasional shadowy producer behind indie figures Aesop Rock, Murs, Del the Funky Homosapien and his Run the Jewels partner Killer Mike. RTJ2 sounds like what you’d expect of two titans combining contrasting lightning bolts: high-powered, excessive, brilliant and destructive.

This follow-up to last year’s Run the Jewels comes from what has to be a darker ecosystem of Mike and P’s psyche, harder-rocking and stocked with bizarre collaborations. “Close Your Eyes” features Zack de la Rocha. “All Due Respect” features Travis Barker—a step into limier light (however, the predecessor had a Big Boi cameo), and, as such, it’s released on Nas’ Mass Appeal records instead of A-Trak’s Fool’s Gold Records like part one.

Jewels 2 won’t be for everyone, as it is, on the whole, an 11-song continuous proclamation of brutality (“Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”), sex (“Love Again”) and general deviance, with hardly a calm clearing among the vitriol. If you think Killer Mike’s notorious guest verses on big-name records are crass and violent, try him out as the host.

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