This album was released on October 24th in 2014. It was my introduction to Run the Jewels. I remember thinking it was amazing the first time I heard it, but after like 3 or 4 months I was kinda over it for some reason. I don’t know why. Hopefully reviewing it again now will help me figure that out. This was actually one of the first albums I ever reviewed for this website, but I deleted it because my reviews were terrible back then. I’m pretty sure my original score for it was a 96. Anyway, every song here is produced by El-P.
1. Jeopardy co-produced by Little Shalimar
This is pretty much a perfect way to begin the album to be honest. El-P’s production on this track is impeccable, and I love how menacing Killer Mike sounds on the very first verse. He rhymed his ass off too. This has always been one of my favorite lines.
I’m putting pistols in faces at random places like
Bitch give it up or stand adjacent to Satan
The entire verse is fucking amazing honestly. He sounds so fucking badass on that shit. It’s hard as fuck. It just gets better and better. I love how the whole thing builds up as a crescendo until the break between his and El-P’s verses.
I live for the thrill of the kill, yes it excites me
You know your favorite rapper ain’t shit, and me? I might be
The closest representation of God you might see
Pay honors like your mama, young sonna, and take a right knee
I actually think I like El-P’s verse a little more though to be honest. The first couple of quatrains from his verse have always been so fucking dope to me.
I’ve never been much of shit, by most measurements don’t exist
On the radar, a little blip in the shadow of motherships
Been smothered & brashly muffled by hucksters of global spin
Like the sign on my back says “stab me, my soul is your little bitch”
But maybe you should be careful when flipping a stranger’s switch
Like assuming the war is won ain’t a symptom of arrogance
When nothing to lose a step up then everything’s for the win
So we grin in the face of frauds and tell monsters to suck our dick
It’s hard to say which verse I prefer really. They’re both fantastic. I have no issues with the song itself. I think it’s a phenomenal intro. This shit is dope af.
2. Oh My Darling Don’t Cry co-produced by Little Shalimar & Wilder Zoby
This was the second song I ever heard from Run the Jewels, and I thought it was fucking incredible. Well, I still do. First of all, I gotta talk about that beat… MAYNE. That shit is fucking insane. El-P is a fucking beast, man. That’s one of the hardest beats of the decade. He also opens the song with quite possibly the best line on the entire album. You already know what I’m talking about if you’ve heard this song.
You can all run naked backwards through a field of dicks
The first time I heard that line I choked on my drink. That shit is genius. The imagery is just fascinating. Killer Mike’s flow on the following verse is fucking awesome too. I love the way he sounds on that shit. It always gets stuck in my head after I listen to this song.
Tip-toe on the track like a ballerina
Ski mask, in a Pontiac Catalina
It’s obese female opera singer
You can run the jewels or lose your fingers
The hook is pretty simplistic, but it serves its purpose well. I love the way El-P’s next verse starts. The way he incorporated the sound of a whip cracking was awesome.
We run this spot like a Chinese sweatshop
Don’t stop, work it, work it ’til chest pop; Cardiac arrested
I’m so invested, I’m self-invented
That’s no illusion, there’s no confusion
You see the future, you fear the future
I’ve seen the truth and I’m so deluded
This entire verse is fantastic, and the way the beat switches up for the next verse from Killer Mike is absolutely glorious. It was like complete sensory overload the first time I heard this shit. Killer Mike killed it too. I think I like El-P’s performance on this track more lyrically, but Killer Mike had a more entertaining flow to me. If I had to choose one I’d go with El-P, but I don’t have to choose thankfully. This song is amazing. I love it.
3. Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1
The first time I heard this track it immediately became my favorite Run the Jewels song. You know why? Because it’s the first song I ever heard from them. That beat is incredible to me, and the way Killer Mike starts the song off with that first verse is awesome. I actually like this beat more than that of the preceding song. I love the way Mike & El-P were trading 8 bar verses on this track too. One of my favorite parts of the song is when El-P pronounces the word “actors” as “ack-uh-tors.” His last verse on this song is stellar.
The fellows at the top are likely rapists
But you’re like, “Mellow out, man, just relax
It’s really not that complicated”
Well pardon me, I guess I’m just insane as you explainèd
Or maybe sanctifying the sadistic is derangèd
It’s kinda eerie how prophetic those lines turned out to be, what with the whole Epstein debacle and all. Killer Mike slaughtered that last verse too. I really don’t know which one of them had the better performance.
This Run the Jewels is murder, mayhem, melodic music
Psychotics use it to lose it, junkies simply abuse it
That’s word to Phillip Seymour Hoff’ and I’m kushin’, coughin’
I probably smell like a pound when they put me in a coffin
I guess it’s just a testament to their chemistry that I’ve been unable to decide who had the better performance on each song so far. This shit is dope af.
4. Close Your Eyes & Count to Fuck featuring Zack de la Rocha
I believe this was the third single I ever heard from Run the Jewels. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t like this track nearly as much as the first couple the first time I heard it. I definitely liked it, but the beat wasn’t as good to me as the others I’d heard already. This is easily one of my favorite tracks that they’ve ever done now though. The beat is fucking awesome. El-P basically did what Kanye West later attempted on Nas’ Cops Shot the Kid from last year. This is way better than that shit though. Don’t get me wrong; I like Cops Shot the Kid a lot. It’s not touching this track though. I wonder if that song was inspired by this track since it was released under Nas’ Mass Appeal label. Anyway, Killer Mike & El-P both rap together on the first couple of verses, and it’s fucking superb. Goddamn, man. I honestly forgot how amazing this album was. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to it. I really adore the opening line of the first verse from Killer Mike. This might not be what he was going for, but I always interpreted it as a Kanye West diss.
Fashion slave, you protestin’ to get in a fuckin’ look book
He killed it. The way he was pretty much telling oppressed people to rebel against law enforcement was awesome. The next part from El-P in which he’s talking back to a supposed judge is really fucking cool too. I love it. He killed the following verse too.
A dirty boy who come down on the side of dissonance
I can’t even relax without sirens off in the distances
Not shittin’ you, little buddy, this fuckin’ island’s a prison
The only solace I have is the act of conjugal visiting
I love how they referenced the ongoing sexual abuse within the Catholic Church too. The final verse from Zack de la Rocha is really just the icing on the cake of this already stupendous song. I was never really into Rage Against the Machine. I kinda liked Bulls on Parade, and I think there was one more song that I liked even more than that track, but I can’t remember what it was. His verse on this track is stellar though. Honestly, I legitimately think he had the best verse on the song.
Yes aggressively testin’ with bunk stretches and penalties
Dump cases when facing to cop pleas when we seizing the pump
With reason to dump on you global grand dragons
Still piling fast bucks, Afghani toe-taggin’
Now they trackin’ me and we bustin’ back, see
The only thing that close quicker than our caskets be the factories
Dude spazzed on that shit. So yeah, the song is fucking awesome. Definitely a favorite of mine. I love it. It’s dope af.
5. All My Life co-produced by Little Shalimar
This is one of the songs that I didn’t really remember quite as much before returning to this album. It wasn’t one of the tracks that I played constantly. The beat is fucking incredible though. The first verse from Killer Mike isn’t quite as spectacular as a lot of his other performances on this album in my opinion, but it was still really good.
One half the best tag team ever
Them other fellas all right; we better
Anybody disagree, they jealous
And anybody don’t just motherfucking yellow
Apparently “yellow” means pusillanimous in this context. The hook is cool, but definitely one of the weaker ones on the album in my opinion. I think that’s the main reason I didn’t play this song as much as the others back when I used to listen to this album more. El-P definitely had the better verse on this song in my opinion. The references to Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr were really dope. There are no other verses on this track. El-P’s performance is just followed by an instrumental interlude, and then the track ends. It’s definitely my least favorite song up to this point in the album, but I still like it. It’s dope, and it transitions into the following track really well.
6. Lie, Cheat, Steal co-produced by Little Shalimar & Boots
This is one of the most popular songs from this album. It’s not one of my favorites though. Well… I don’t know. I think it has some of the best rapping on the album, but I honestly just do not like that hook at all. The way the beat kinda changes for this part makes it sound like something I’d hear in Jimmy Neutron. It’s annoying to me. The first verse from El-P is incredible though. His flow is insane. I’m not used to hearing him flow like that. That line about tea-bagging a tank of piranhas was really deep. I shed a tear the first time I heard it. Killer Mike’s line about being a mixture of MJG & the Weathermen was fucking awesome as well. I think his verse is inferior to that of El-P, but he still did a good job. It’s a dope song. I fuck with it.
7. Early featuring Boots produced by Little Shalimar
This is my favorite song on the album. It’s between this one and Angel Duster. I think this is the one though. There’s not a single aspect of this track that isn’t amazing to me. The first verse from Killer Mike in which he tells the story of his wife and son being murdered by a police officer while he’s in the back of the police car is really heartbreaking. It’s so well executed though. And my god, that hook…
Boots sounds fucking beautiful singing that shit, man. It’s incredible. I love it. El-P’s verse is delivered from the perspective of an apathetic white man who witnesses what happens to Killer Mike’s character, and I love the way it ends.
Street Lamps stare when you walk watch the birdie
They’ll watch you walk to the store they’re recording
But didn’t record cop when he shot, no warning
Heard it go pop, might have been two blocks
Heard a kid plus pops watched cop make girl bleed
Go to home, go to sleep, up again early
It’s a really powerful song lyrically, and it’s message is just strengthened by the fact that this is probably also the best track on the whole album sonically. The production is masterful. I love this shit. It’s dope af.
8. All Due Respect featuring Travis Barker co-produced by Little Shalimar & Wilder Zoby
This was one of the weaker tracks to me the first time I listened to this album. I remember not really liking the production that much. I love this song now though. I’m still not really crazy about the beat, but I do like it. Killer Mike & El-P’s actually rapping is what makes this song stand out to me though. The opening quatrain from Mike is superb.
This year we iller than a nun in a cumshot
Gettin’ double penetrated in a dope spot
By two hard pipe hittin’ niggas
On the orders of Marcellus to the soundtrack of 2Pac
They’re fast paced flows are excellent too. The hook is pretty simplistic. I like how brief it is. It serves as a good break between the verses, and it gets the fuck outta the way really quickly. The second verse from El-P is cool, but not as great as the first one from Mike in my opinion. I like how they were trading verses at the end of the song. The song still isn’t one of my favorites on the album, but it’s far from my least favorite. It’s dope af.
9. Love Again (Akinyele Back) featuring Gangsta Boo
If you’re familiar with my taste, it should come as no surprise that this is easily my least favorite song on the album. I like how smoothly the previous track transitions into this one, and the production is solid enough I suppose. I even like their flows and deliveries on this track a lot too. My issue is obviously just with the content. I don’t think the song is bad. If you’re into Pornocore, I don’t see why you wouldn’t like this. It’s well done. I’m just not into this kind of Hip Hop at all. Overall, I didn’t care for any of the verses on this song. I don’t like the “dick in her mouth all day” hook either, but I thought it was cool how it switched to “clit in his mouth all day” after Gangsta Boo’s verse. That was funny. I’m never listening to this shit again though. It’s an okay song, but not for me.
10. Crown featuring Diane Coffee co-produced by Little Shalimar
This is another one of my favorite songs on the album. The production is incredible, and the sung hook is catchy as hell. Both of the verses from Mike & El-P respectively are absolutely stunning too. The story Mike told in his verse was really emotional.
Won’t be the same type of man that puts cocaine in this lady’s hand
Heard she was pregnant, I’m guilty I reckon ’cause I hear that good shit can hurt baby’s brain
Heard he was normal ’til three and then he stopped talkin’
Since then, ain’t nothin been the same
I really don’t know whose verse I prefer. El-P’s verse about being almost brainwashed by the military and transformed into a ruthless killing machine was crazy. He really does a great job of making the military look like a cult.
You are not you, you are now us
We are the only ones that you can trust
You’ll become fear, they’ll become dust
Before this moment, you didn’t mean much
You are the smoldering vessel of punishment born to do nothing but justify us
I love this track. I don’t really have any issues with it. I used to think the guitar that comes in during the hook sounded kinda lame, but it’s not nearly bad enough to hurt the song substantially. This shit is boiling hot fire.
11. Angel Duster co-produced by Little Shalimar
This was my favorite track on the album the first time I heard it. I know I said Early was my favorite track. The truth is, I really can’t remember which track I preferred. I really love both of them. I still don’t know which one I prefer. This shit is incredible though. I fucking love this beat, and the hook is awesome too. The first couple of verses are cool, but they really snapped on the last too.
You say you wanna be my leader, I think you wanna be my God
You say you on the side of the righteous (right) I say I’m gonna hang with the wrong
There’s truth where the filth is, there’s lies in the law
You want a whore with a white dress, I want a wife in a thong
A pope is a fraud, a church is a lie
A queen is the same damn thing, you should pray to your fake god that she die
God really exists? I’ll tell you, like this: it reside inside
And anybody tell you different, just selling you religion, tryna keep your ass in line
It’s got a pretty straightforward structure, and I love it. I have zero issues with it at all. This shit is amazing.
+ Blockbuster Night, Pt. II featuring Wiki & Despot
This song is technically just a bonus track from this album. I remember being a little disappointed when I first heard it because I don’t think it’s as amazing as the first Blockbuster Night song. I still think it’s dope af though. The beat is great, and I really loved the second verse from El-P. I wasn’t as impressed by Killer Mike, but he did his thing on the first verse. I definitely see why this was left off the standard edition of the album because it does feel less complete than a lot of the other tracks. Despot fucking slaughtered that third verse though.
Cue the music I’m bout to do something stupid
I got a new shiny tool kit to fix your face and I’ll use it
Flippin’ birds, I ain’t talkin’ no middle fingers
Come line up to kiss the ring of your favorite rap singer
He definitely had my favorite verse on the song, but unfortunately the following verse from Wiki kinda sucked. I wouldn’t say it was trash or anything, but I’d understand someone thinking that it was compared to the other verses on the track. The song is dope af overall, but definitely not one of my favorites.
This album is amazing. I think the first album was more consistent personally, but this one definitely has higher highs. The production from El-P is nearly flawless, and almost every song is incredible to me. There’s only one track that I didn’t care for, and it’s not even bad. The lyricism ranges from hilarious to heartbreaking. The hooks are catchy as fuck. I really don’t think there are any consistent flaws with this thing. I’m not into wrestling at all, but I’m familiar enough with it to realize that this album is Stone Cold Steve Austin in the form of a Hip Hop record. This shit is dope af.
Favorite Song: Early
Least Favorite Song: Love Again (Akinyele Back)
Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.