“I hope, I hope with the highest of hopes that I never need to go back to the trap and the days of me selling dope”
Honesty of the hard places many a rap artist has come from in hip hop doesn’t always sound like a counting of blessings rather than a brag of authenticity. That’s not how it goes here on Killer Mike’s opening gambit for RTJ3. This is relatively low key and low end rumble. When matched with some incredible flow and positivity about hard battles fought and won it’s a powerful recipe.
“So I only spit fire and dope so later on you can go quote my lines to your people and folk and they say, “Damn that boy be spitting that pressure and he be smoking that pressure and he smart as a professor, yes sir”
Of course with Killer Mike the humour is never far away but the message is never diluted. Books or Guns. Ballot or Bullet.
“My, my, y’all, I coulda died, y’all a couple times I took my eyes off the prize, y’all, I know a few people pray for my demise, y’all, but like cream, I had to rise, I had to rise, y’all”
Run The Jewels are the perfect mix of old school dexterity, inspirational message and that sense of fun so often missing from the posers end of the hip hop music scene. It’s truly great to see them blow up the way they have. They’re a couple of old dudes making hip hop that bridges generational gaps.
El-P hits hard with his verse. He’s gonna need a bigger boat for what’s coming, he knows RTJ have hit big and he knows it was the hard times before that gave them the fire to be doing this. He talks about his pride dying in dead end jobs while his tapes and his inspiration came from filling a void where optimism should have been. It’s entirely convincing and really quite affecting. It gets the blood up.
“Or maybe listen to the man that barely dodged his own lobotomy pop the tape in, baby, we got shit we wrote for you, for you came from feeling what a pure absence of hope can do”
I’ve heard these guys in interviews talking about how they do this for fun, to make each other laugh and because it’s something they always have done/ It’s just now that the world is listening. I like that idea. Killer Mike and El-P just out to impress each other and somehow we all go to listen in on their in jokes and showing off or showing out.
“See the cold floor where I licked dirt when the dough dried and the pride died, had a dumb max, had to shop right gimme two meals and the lights on I’ma do right, get a new crew make a new life, never boo-hoo never lose sight, I’m a voodoo”
Dungeon Family collective collaborator Joi turns in a great contribution too. Joi’s cool drawled backing vocals add a dimension still as she takes that chant of a chorus and adds real blues and soul grit. She’s been on records by Outkast, Fishbone, TLC, Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton, Joss Stone and even Robbie Williams over the years as well as recording half a dozen of her own albums.
Atlanta seems to be an incredible place for music to bloom.