RTJ4 – A Review

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And here it finally is. And you couldn’t have had better timing if you hired an advertising firm to stage 2020 as a promotional effort for this record. 

But, lets take a quick second to recap the previous 3 episodes. 

Killer Mike and El-P is a partnership that was forged out of a combination of career struggles, love of obscure rap, and the will of Adult Swim

I jumped on the train around RTJ2. Was at an interesting point in my life (early 2016), and I was already pissed at how the world was shaping up. Turns out, I was late to the game. First track I heard from them was Lie, Cheat, Steal, and was immediately sold. I had heard El-P’s production before cause I have a long history with his former label Def Jux (a story for another day) and Killer Mike I knew from Outkast projects, but this felt otherworldly. Run the Jewels felt like something that was inevitable. That the world needed it, or I guess, I needed it. 

RTJ3 came out at the perfect time. RTJ was there the day after America had its diagnosis of fully retarded confirmed. The album came shortly thereafter, and it was definitely the soundtrack for the changes in my life at that time. 

Which brings us to the present, if America went fully retarded 4 years ago, we are now in some kind of critical condition of stupidity, ignorance, and indifference. Perfect enviornment for Killer Mike and El-P to provide the soundtrack for the times. 

If RTJ4 isn’t their best record, it is fucking close. It definitely has their best rapping. Lets just dive into the cornerstone track of the album. 

And I mean cornerstone. This feels like the sun the rest of the album orbits around. And its emblematic of what is going on with this album. El-P’s beats feel just as rage filled as the lyrics. And whole shit the verses here. Killer Mike has the verse of the year, and arguably, the best single verse of his career. Encapsulating everything around violence against black people that brought us to this moment. Its urgent but well studied. Like the man himself. What makes this partnership amazing is El-P always finds his way to be the foil with his verse targeting MAGA indifference, and how they should just abandon the Christian pretense. Gangsta Boo’s hook is the cherry on the sundae. 

The whole album is like this. RTJ3 felt a bit random at times. Less focused. This is like on target. A bullseye. Max points. They did it. Headshot. 

The more I listen to this album, Out of Sight is my personal favorite. It isn’t the best track (walking in the snow is definitely that), but its my personal favorite. I love the fucking groove here. For as much as the album is a rumination on how shitty America has become, got damn El-P plays it with a groove. This is a fucking banger and should be played in every club. Oh and 2 Chainz verse…..I am a big fan of the man, but I haven’t always been a big fan of his music. BUT, here. This is my second favorite verse on the record. Its so fucking smooth, and got me to pause the record to laugh (“I’d buy a hot dog stand if I’m tryin be frank”)

The whole record has amazing one liners too. Like an 80s action movie. If its not Killer Mike’s bit about robbing hypebeasts, its El-P’s Vonne-gut punch for your atlas shrugs. 

There isn’t an ounce of wasted space on this album. Even any of the tracks which don’t blow up as big are fantastic and add to the overall message. I am not sure a RTJ project has ever been this directly targeted. 

One last track I want to focus on here.


Zack de la Rocha is to RTJ what Busta Rhymes was to A Tribe Called Quest. Its always a nice reminder that he has massive talent. Again, El-P’s beats here are concussive but clean. I don’t think an anti-capitalist, anti-money song has sounded this smooth. I also really love the ad-libs here (Thats true!). It almost feels like poking fun at ad-libs as a concept. 

4/4 – Run the Jewels continues to be the best rap group. I am still struggling if this is better than RTJ 2, but that doesn’t mean its not album of the year. Cause who the fuck is going to beat this shit. No one. Everyone should hear this album. Its the record of our time. Killer Mike and El-P continue to make the soundtrack for the apocalypse. I can only hope we all learn something here. 

Whose kidding, we won’t. We dumb as hell. 


© Church of the Holy Flava 2016 - 2021