Ju$t – Run The Jewels

I think we can all agree, if the Human Race survive to the end of the decade then 2020 is going to be remembered as a rough year. Should there ever be one of those retrospective TV shows that looks back over the years with talking heads and sound bites, then RTJ4 should feature prominently on the soundtrack. Just as we can’t have a montage about the 60’s and politics without Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin’ or a show focussing on the KKK in the 50’s without Billie singing Strange Fruit. It would cut through a lot of mis en scene to drop Walking In The Snow or Ohh La La over the spliced images of crowds being pepper sprayed, huge painted yellow letters on 16th Street and forest fires turning the California sky “All Halloween Orange and Chimney Red”.

There is no more timely soundtrack to the last 12 months than the combination of Killer Mike, El-P, Zakk DeLa Rocha and Pharell Williams. Except maybe the other tracks on RTJ4. The mind boggling fact that Walking In The Snow was recorded before George Floyd, before Breonna Taylor, the dismantling of the US Postal Service, Ghislaine Maxwell killing herself (I’m writing this before that happens too) just goes to show how far we’ve wandered and for how long.

I’m going with Ju$t though over Out Of Sight or Holycalamafuck! for the following reasons. You’ve got a trifecta in operation on this track. Run The Jewels are the coolest of the cool. They do modern hip hop with an old school sensibility. The Run in their name is no coincidence. Pharrell may have lost some of his cool with that fucking ear worm getting too big for humanity to bear a couple of years back (I’m sure there’s something in the theory that Happy is responsible for the decline of western civilization being expedited so quickly after it’s release) but remember this guy was a cooler than fleek producer and one half of N.E.R.D before he started wearing stupid hats all the time. Then there’s Zakk. The voice of passionate resistance of oppression for over 25 years. Mr “Some of those who work forces are the same who burn crosses”, Dr “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” and Saint “Sleep now in the fire”. It’s great to hear him here along side the old school cool and the modern pop maestro. All together. Saying what is right and true.

The word play and articulate nature at the core of Ju$t is a delight even without all this context. They have a riot with dense verses like…

“Look at who we done blessed with our trust, I don’t think we’ll be left with too much, hand on my heart and my mind on my drugs, got a Vonnegut punch for your Atlas shrugs, they love to not love it’s just that dumb, Lord, sweet Buddha please make me numb, brain bounce off walls like a sentient Roomba, just found out his creator’s stupid”

There’s so much going on in that bar alone. Literary references that cite set texts on divisionism, puns, multiculturalism, a riff about the internet of things all delivered like a good joke. Get to the real meat of the subject and there’s more.

“Beep beep, Richie, this is New York City, the X on the map where the pain keep hitting, just us ducks here sitting, where murderous chokehold cops still earnin’ a livin’, funny how some say money don’t matter, that’s rich now, isn’t it, get it? Comedy, try to sell a pack a smokes to get food, get killed and it’s not an anamoly”

At the time of writing, the USA is still under the leadership of a petulant man baby who harbors deep resentment to all who are of a different race, gender, economic background or ideology (don’t @ me). By the time this is published the American nation will either have purged his evil at the November election and be in throes of even more civil disturbance or it will have accepted it’s place as the dictatorship set to destroy civilization as we know it and replace it with something far darker.

If we do survive the decade in a format similar to the reality we all experience now, RTJ4 will be remembered as the sountrack to the turning of the tide. If we don’t, it’ll only be spoken about like the Tell of Captain Walker in Beyond Thunderdome.

In case you wondered where I stood politically there it is. We Are All In This Together, Black Lives Matter, Love Is Love, A Woman’s Body Is Her Own Fuckin’ Business, Don’t Be A Dick.

10 thoughts on “Ju$t – Run The Jewels

  1. I heard Ooh La La earlier this year. The first song and video excellent. Whoever put that videocollage together is a genius. None of the lyrics can be denied. Even though we’ve narrowly escaped Armageddon this time, we’re still on the precipice. I heard a podcast the other day where someone said they fear getting someone in office with the same ideology as the orange stain but not a total buffoon. We are primed for it. Good write-up on a political powerhouse rap group. Rap has always had the potential but it had to get the kid stuff out of the way first.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. UGH We’re in for interesting times. Maybe the covid curtain around the US will be lifted at some point so I can get the hell out of Dodge. Trying to imagine myself in my 80s in a reich-like place just doesn’t do it for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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