Bringing in 2017, RUN THE JEWELS wastes no time delivering their signature hard-hitting lyrics in their third album to date. Here are our favorites from RUN THE JEWELS 3:

5. “DOWN
One time for the freedom of speeches // Two time for the right to hold heaters // Just skip to the fifth, with the cops in the house

A strong start for the album, DOWN is a look into KILLER MIKE and EL-P’s past; Mikey hoping “That I never have to go back to the trap // And my days of dealing with dope“. The song foreshadows big themes in the album, with one of the most important described in the lyric “ballot or bullet, you better use one” alluding to Malcolm X’s Pro-Black stance and approach to discrimination.

4. “2100
How long before the hate that we hold // Lead us to another Holocaust?

This track was released the day after the 2016 presidential election. It calls for us to not let go of the fire in wanting a political revolution (started by Bernie Sanders — RTJ’s candidate of choice). Constant references to the current “invisible” class-based socioeconomic system, “motherfuckers steady getting rich from the blood“, RTJ discusses the revolution with EL-P saying “They could barely even see the dog // They don’t see the size of the fight“. We’re stronger than we think. Get your Molotov cocktails ready, the world as RTJ sees it will be different come 2100.

Step into the spotlight // And the crowd goes RTJ! // And the crowd goes RTJ!

Honestly, this track is just bumpin’ and cuts through the heavy political commentary like freshly-squeezed lemon on an oily meal. Would’ve been better if they threw it in later on the album, but a banger nonetheless.

Went to war with the devil and shaytan // He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan

Rightfully so, RTJ has no chill towards President Trump. At 0:20 KILLER MIKE is already shittin’ on him, calling him shaytan (the Arabic word for satan, a lowkey fuck you to Trump’s overt racism towards the middle east). EL-P joins in the firing saying “I didn’t walk uphill both ways to the booth and back to not wild on you // You think baby Jesus killed Hitler just so I’d whisper?“, implying that he won’t remain quiet about the injustices surrounding the election. That line resonated especially hard with me — parents everywhere tell their kids that they “didn’t walk uphill both ways for you to be a failure”, and suddenly EL-P flips them on us allowing us to understand those words in a new context.

Fears been law for so long that rage feels like therapy

The real jewel of this song (intended pun, cue forced laughter), is KILLER MIKE’s line referencing Shakespeare’s famous phrase ‘pound of flesh.’ A quick high school English Literature lesson if I may:

The reference is from The Merchant of Venice. It reaches deep, speaking toward historical systematic oppression of minorities. In Shakespeare’s, Shylock (a minority), is told that if he gives a loan and it’s not paid back in full, as collateral, he may take a pound of Antonio’s flesh. As the story goes, we learn that he may only have the ‘pound of flesh’ if no ounce of Christian blood is shed; thus voiding the accountability of the deal.

KILLER MIKE’s line “Can’t keep killin’ God’s children, mane // A pound of flesh is what you owe” is, in fact, saying that those who keep killing God’s children (a reference to blood being shed via police brutality) owe a pound of flesh. This insinuates MIKE’s stance that police in this country, similar to that of Shakespeare, have no collateral owed in their social contract with the people they’re serving. There is no accountability.

Topping it off, the hook of the song is “Thieves! Thieves!” referencing what conservative media called the participants of the Ferguson riots and later the Black Lives Matter movement.

Off the rip, I knew RUN THE JEWELS 3 was gonna get political. Little did I know KILLER MIKE & EL-P would attack it in a way that speaks to everyone frustrated with the United States’ current president police state.

While I have little to say about how bright the future is for 2017, I can still say RUN THE JEWELS 3 serves as an oasis for those who won’t settle and wish to unite against racists and bigots. From now ’til the 4 years of hell are over, let’s all be sure to take RTJ’s words to heart and fight back against those who try to oppress and tyrannize.


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