March 13, 2014

REMIX OF THE WEEK | Run the Jewels

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Rap music is not exactly my area of expertise. I prefer airy, minimal electronic: Songs with minimal vocals, or singing that just moseys along with a down tempo background. However, I’ll admit that I listen to an absurd amount of Kanye West at the gym, but is his music even rap? When I saw him at the Prudential Center over February break, Kanye lamented labeling his music as “rap.” And as an avid listener of 808s & Heartbreak (his most underrated album), it’s hard not to take Kanye’s side in this battle. Sure, he has rap verses, but the completed project should probably be labeled something highfalutin like “avant-garde R&B.”

That being said, last year I stumbled upon the free album Run the Jewels by Killer Mike and El-P (watch this if you don’t know who they are #KillerMikeElP2016). I wasn’t super familiar with their work, but downloaded it nonetheless (because really, who can resist a free download?). Run the Jewels was one of the most lauded albums of 2013, part of this rap pack (lol) of critics’ picks with Danny Brown’s Old and Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap.

There are many awesome, punchy songs on Run the Jewels, but “Sea Legs” is certainly a standout. It tells the story of Killer Mike and El-P’s legitimacy: They assert that they “write for the writers that write for the liars that impress you and your parents.” It’s aggressive, but also poignant in the era of Internet stars and the surplus of wannabe rappers. They also make a few knocks on mainstream rappers —most notably my beloved Kanye West: “There will be no Mercy me’s,” “There will be no respect for The Thrones” and “N***** will perish in Paris, n***** is nothing but parrots.” Killer Mike and El-P absolutely KILL IT on the delivery, as they seem to spit out these verses with aggression to match the lyrics. Interestingly, Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio did a really great remix of this song. Not for the feeble hearted, Sitek cuts down all the original background music and adds a thumping baseline. Don’t listen to this on little earbuds, as you will miss the full effect of this bass. I feel like this addition really completes the song; while it was an excellent song to begin with, now it is totally badass.