Run the Jewels may be the first time NYC rapper/producer El-P has abandoned his perfectionist’s streak for the exhilaration of immediate results. There are no weighty concepts about drone warfare and abusive relationships (as on last year’s long-gestating Cancer 4 Cure) here; just raw-dog raps and galactic funk alongside Atlanta big homie Killer Mike (from the El-produced R.A.P. Music.) This quick, free joint project is comparatively frizzy, and doesn’t leave a bruising stain of forced mind expansion, just a pleasant memory of good times had by reclaiming “jewels” from the corporate overlords of mainstream rap.
The cover art for Lupe Fiasco’s sequel to his 2006 debut, Food & Liquor, is shrouded in all black, a design shtick historically associated with emotional disruptions: Prince’s violently pessimistic funk, Jay-Z’s uncharacteristically poignant bouts of confidence, Metallica’s awkward growth spurt from thrash metal prodigies to corporate-rock dinosaurs. Yet on Food & Liquor II, the Chicago MC continues on as always. He criticizes the AmeriKKKan government on “Ital [Roses],” just as he did with 2011’s “Words I Never Said” (off the commercially successful Lasers) and the original Food & Liquor‘s “American Terrorist.” He declares that his outrageously unvarnished opinions are mere expressions of love for his audience on “Heart Donor,” just as he did with Lasers‘ “The Show Goes On.”