– THE QUIET RIOT –
Run the Jewels’ RTJ4 was already one of the most hotly anticipated albums of the year. That its release coincided directly with the killing of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests only turned the eyes of the world on it even further. What words of wrath and wisdom would Killer Mike and El-P have written well in advance of this incident and what would such prescience say about the pre-existing experience of Black people in America?
They haven’t let us down. a few words for the firing squad (radiation) is the album’s chilling, clear-eyed finale.
Of course, we could talk about the music. About how its quiet foreboding and refusal to erupt into ever-impending violence is important in framing the current discussion over peaceful protesting. We could also talk about the inclusion of strings and tenor sax (provided by Cochemea Gastelum) and how that adds drama and a feeling of importance to proceedings.
But, of course, it’s all about the lyrics here. This is not Pig Feet. It’s not pissed off Black America ranting about mistreatment (for that, try the excellent walking in the snow).
“My queen say she need a king, not another junkie, flunky rapper fiend / Friends tell her, ‘He could be another Malcolm, he could be another Martin’ / She told her partner, ‘I need a husband more than the world need another martyr’” says Killer Mike.
This is the sound of weary Black America. Of a man who’s ‘made it out of the mud’ and is trying to be the best family man he can be. But circumstances mean he simply can’t avoid being dragged into the debate over race relations once again.
Sadly, Killer Mike would be called back into the breach more quickly than even he might have imagined.
If you like this try my review of Dearly Departed by Brockhampton.
RTJ4 is out now through Jewel Runners.
HEAR MORE HERE
And so we reach a cease-fire for this week.
You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the Future Jazz Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
Until next time, love and noise.
– SV –