RTJ4 by Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels’ fourth album RTJ4 will be to the summer of 2020 what Marvin Gaye’s album What’s Going On was to the summer of 1970/71. While hip hop has always been political and representative of the communities it comes from when at its best, the timing of this album is what will let it stand out in history. As the summer heat ferments political upheaval and protest, not unlike the summer of 1970 that informed What's Going On, Run the Jewels’ album provides the prologue to the historical events unfolding this summer. The brief reference to A Clockwork Orange on “holy calamafuck” is strikingly raw as violence and abolition make themselves at home in the conversations of every household. Despite, or maybe because of this, the album feels much like a wound with the scab scratched off, in its incredible accessibility. On “JU$T '' the issues of the U.S. are delivered in clear deliberate lyrics “Look at all these slave masters posin' on yo' dollar (Get it, yeah)” Minimal adjustment would be needed to translate RTJ4 into a well written sociology paper. The album’s closing thesis “a few words for the firing squad (radiation)” is the perfect crescendo for the album- the music swells with violin, strings and saxophone before giving way to a chaotic instrumental break. The outro gasps out its last breaths with the lyrics “brave, brave, brave” Is it referencing one of the central characters introduced in the opening track,”yankee and the brave” or a hope for what we could be? You decide.
Written by Emma Chekroun