We all have a love affair that doesn’t leave us — one that strengthens with time.
For the Album Analyzer, Run the Jewels’ latest release instills the swelter of romance and prompts him to ask what other albums match this one’s uniqueness.
Run the Jewels’ “Run the Jewels 2” dropped in late October and, among other impressive accolades for a duo whose music doesn’t contain large mainstream appeal, achieved the Album Analyzer’s first perfect rating. “RTJ2” features dynamic doses of immediacy in a majority of its songs’ themes, but also builds on the foundations of meshing rock and hip-hop from the past.
Here are the Album Analyzer’s five recommendations for hip-hop heads who feel as ecstatic about “RTJ2” as he does:
“Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic (1971)
George Clinton and the album’s various other singers deploy no raps throughout “Maggot Brain,” but their lyrics do show similarities to Run the Jewels’ stanzas in one fashion: with a mix of silliness and social commentary.
From “Maggot Brain’s” intro and title track, listeners get a snippet of Funkadelic’s unique take on ‘60s and ‘70s culture. However, songs like “Can You Get to That” and “Back in Our Minds” and their ad-lib chants add light-heartedness — much like the ridiculous brags from “RTJ2.”
“Paul’s Boutique” by The Beastie Boys (1989)
Rock n’ roll doesn’t dominate “RTJ2’s” slate of instrumentals, but power chords and drum kicks run rampant in the background. The Beastie Boys’ second studio album encompasses multiple genres in its 15 tracks, but like “RTJ2,” guitar music’s presence stays constant.
From their efforts in “Shake Your Rump” to “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun,” The Beastie Boys mix the loudness of Led Zeppelin or AC/DC with hip-hop’s early foundations. On “RTJ2’s” “Blockbuster Night Part 1,” Run the Jewels take a similar approach: constant strings push each verse forward.
“Rage Against the Machine” by Rage Against the Machine (1992)
“Now they tracking me, and we’re busting back, see / The only thing that close quicker than our caskets be the factories,” Zack De La Rocha spits in his guest appearance on “RTJ2’s” “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F—).” De La Rocha’s cameo stands out for its simple, effective lines and his ability to deliver each syllable in an impactful way.
And he’s been excelling in those aspects for more than 20 years. Take “Township Rebellion,” track nine from RATM’s self-titled album. Here, De La Rocha utilizes silence like he does with “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F—),” and this method compares to Run the Jewels’ producer and rapper El-P also — particularly on “RTJ2’s” “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry.”
“Stankonia” by Outkast (2000)
Run the Jewels’ second half, Killer Mike, made his debut on Outkast’s turn-of-the-century LP. Track six, “Snappin’ & Trappin’,” exhibits Mike’s drastic progression, but his ability to let the song’s instrumental mold the flow he raps with remains the same.
Compounded with that, “Stankonia’s” beats feature balance between The Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique” and “RTJ2,” with Outkast deploying a bit more rock-infused sounds than Run the Jewels but less than on The Beastie Boys’ standout album.
“Old” by Danny Brown (2013)
Brown’s sophomore effort highlighted numerous trends in late-’00s to early-’10s rap. And a few of these could act as precursors to “RTJ2”: the rock n’ roll and electronic infusion and Brown’s ridiculous yet socially conscious lyrics.
Brown ruled rap with his distinctive style last year similar to Run the Jewels’ approach now. Memorable tracks from “Old” like “25 Bucks,” “Dip” and “Kush Coma” don’t sound like “RTJ2’s” most eclectic efforts, but similarly, they added more possible genres to rappers’ repertories to create an ever-expanding melting pot.