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Album review: Run the Jewels stays in the fast lane on ‘RTJ3’

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Mike Pizzo

Three and a half stars

Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 3

Combining Killer Mike’s political lyrics, delivered by Southern drawl, and El-P’s unsettling, futuristic boom-bap backdrops, Run the Jewels has been a critically and commercially successful duo since its 2013 origins, thrilling a zealous fanbase with the surprise December 24 digital release of its third self-titled album. That record, out physically this week, finds the two men once again expertly meshing their styles; the raps are delivered almost exclusively with Mike’s trademark bounce, with El’s accompanying beats heavier and more experimental than ever.

Throwback singles “Talk to Me” and “Legend Has It” will surely please longtime followers, but RTJ3’s real meat can be found in its deeper cuts. The Danny Brown-featured “Hey Kids” and near-industrial “Call Ticketron” recall Trent Reznor’s darker productions, minus the hard guitars. “Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)” goes full Walking Dead, as the Jewels jump to the Trump presidency’s worst possible outcome. And the nasty, Gangsta Boo-driven “Panther Like a Panther” is a requisite club banger one might hear at a Mad Decent party. It’s another worthwhile LP for Run the Jewels, who have found their fast lane and stayed in it.

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