Run The Jewels surprised fans by releasing its highly-anticipated new album RTJ4 days early to align with the current nation-wide protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd, systemic racism and police brutality. The news comes just a day after Killer Mike and El-P announced that the project would be free for everyone to listen.
RTJ4 spans 11 songs and taps DJ Premier, Greg Nice, 2 Chainz, Pharrell Williams and Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine. The duo managed to again release a project that best represents the times. They’re both angry and militant, frustrated and jaded. But they are neither tired nor pessimistic.
They kicked off the project with “The Yankee and the Brave” and followed that effort up with the music video for “Ooh La La” where they celebrated the death of income inequality, burning cash and taking to the streets in celebration. On “JU$T”, Pharrell waxes about the lie that the 13th Amendment in modern-day America while Zack De La Rocha finishes the track off with references to the Zapruder film, prescient comments on constant militarization and more. With “a few words for the firing squad (radiation)”, El-P and Mike lay out who they make music for:
“Black child in America, the fact that I made it was magic
Black and beautiful, the world broke my mama heart, and she died an addict
God blessed me to redeem her in my thoughts, words, and my actions
Satisfaction for The Devil, goddammit, he’ll never ever have it
This is for the do-gooders that the no-gooders used and then abused
For the truth tellers tied to the whippin’ post, left beaten, battered, bruised
For the ones whose body hung from a tree like a piece of strange fruit
Go hard, last words to the firing squad was, “F*ck you too”
Killer Mike has been as active as ever, speaking truth to power through emotional speeches in his hometown of Atlanta and on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Earlier this year, they talked to Rick Rubin on his Broken Record Podcast about their personal growth.
“I don’t have sh*t left to say right now that me and my brother Killer Mike don’t express on this album so I’m not saying sh*t anymore until then,” El-P said in a recent social media post. “On it is all our joy, humor, friendship and rage. We got bangers to help you lose yourself and smile and we got sh*t that comes from the deepest places in our hearts and when it drops on Friday, it will not only be for sale but it will be made available for free for anyone who wants some music. For me this is the only way I really know how to contribute to the human struggle and experience beyond just trying to be kind and aware and grow.”
Stream the full project below. In more music updates, read some of the more poignant messages from the music industry on the ongoing Black Live Matters protests in America.