And The Crowd Goes… (audio/download)
Before we this get started, don’t forget you can grab the album digitally for free over at their website!
Sorry for having disappeared off the radar for a bit. Christmas/New Years vacation has had me away from my computer for the past week, and every time I tried to write something for this surprise album release, it didn’t quite fit what I wanted to say. But at long last, after a little more time to digest the album, I think I finally found what I was trying to say about this album. So here goes.
In spirit, message, and sound, RTJ3 is a frustrated, angry album. It is peppered with those braggadocious moments that I love about RTJ1 and 2 (especially “Legend Has It”, my personal favorite track on the album), the album does a pretty good job of summing up how most people felt in 2016, because let’s face it, it’s been pretty turbulent year regardless of your social or political association. But enough about that, because I refuse to use my blog to talk about that kind of shit. So with that out of the way, let’s get into how I feel about RTJ3 as an album.
Having extensively listened to RTJ1 and RTJ2 (RTJ2 being probably my second favorite album of 2014, right behind D’Angelo’s Black Messiah), I can definitely say that RTJ3 is by far their most adventurous album yet. Remember RTJ1 was cobbled together from beats that El-P had lying around, hence why it sounds so different from it’s sequel, which was their first album that was built from the ground up. RTJ3 definitely expands on the sounds that were prevalent on RTJ2, which is to say that Vangelis-meets-trap from hell sound that El-P sound he’s been perfecting since the start of the 2010’s. If there’s one resoundingly positive thing I will say about this album is El-P is absolutely in top form here, taking the sound that he’s built from the last two albums, and taking it to the next level.
But here’s the part where you guys are gonna take out the torches and pitchforks and hunt me down: this is easily the most uneven album they’ve made to date because to me, this album sags in the middle. Like RTJ2, it starts off stellar with the one-two-three-four punch of “Down”, “Talk To Me”, “Legend Has It”, and “Call Tickertron”; that last one being one of the more experimental and weird tracks that works for me. But after a feature from Danny Brown on “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” (which honestly, I would still like a serious explanation as to why people like Danny Brown because I just don’t get his hyper), the album just dips for me. Basically, from “Stay Gold” to “Panther Like A Panther” just don’t do anything for me. Whether it’s the beat, performance, or lyrics, the last few times I’ve listened to the album I’ve just skipped to “Everybody Stay Calm” and listened to album straight through to the end and found a much more enjoyable listening experience that way. To be fair, I’m still in sort of the early stages of listening to the album and there’s a chance that later on I might come back and discover I love those tracks, much like I did with tracks like “Sea Legs”, “Early”, or “All My Life”. But as it stands right now, I’m not the biggest fan of that mid-section, which is a shame because the Kamasi Washington-featured track “Thursday In The Danger Room” and the album closer, “A Report To The Shareholders : Kill Your Masters” are both late-album highlights.
I still won’t call this album a miss though, just a thoroughly mixed bag for me. After all, Run The Jewels at their weakest are still better than most of the shit that passes for rap/hip-hop these days. But in comparison to their tight, nearly-flawless Run The Jewels 2 album, it’s probably tied with RTJ1 for me right now.
But hey, you know that’s just like my opinion, right?