The highly anticipated, RTJ3 is finally here. While their last two albums seemed almost impossible to top, Killer Mike and El-P, have done just that.
When first listening to RTJ3, I struggled to take it all in. El-P’s production is a wall of impenetrable booming bass. While there are some relatively calmer moments on the record, such as the opener Down, and Kamasi Washington’s smooth sax on Thursday In The Danger Room, the whole album is pretty relentless. The album left me breathless. It was as though I was hit with a brick in my face – in the best way possible.
After listening to it again, and again, I began to appreciate the subtle detail. The music underscores a gritty dystopian nightmare (perhaps a reflection of the current political landscape), with screaming sirens, military drones and #alternativefacts.
Killer Mike and El-P’s rapping overlaying the beats is wild. They combine nuanced concepts with witty word play, and complex galloping flows without compromising anything. As the duo seamlessly work together rapping with such passion through each syllable, their dynamic chemistry is brought to light. Their rapping is like the ultimate cop film – despite their differences, they manage to complement each other’s strengths, compensating for their weaknesses, and beat the bad guy.
RTJ3 manages to be self-aware without sounding self-conscious. Combining punk sensibilities and hard hitting pop production, juvenile humour minus the cringe, and hedonism independent of materialism, the results are incredible. Most importantly, this conscious hip-hop album is actually fun.