Atlanta MC Killer Mike was one of the first and most vocal hip-hop artists to respond to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner earlier this year, via a series of incisive online statements. You might expect the same grief and outrage to fuel the new Run the Jewels 2, the follow-up to his 2013 collaboration with Brooklyn alt-rap mastermind El-P.
Yes, the record features righteous abuse-of-power indictments—see “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),” featuring a cameo from Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha—but as on Run the Jewels’ debut, those proclamations sit alongside hard-won optimism and a contagious goofball sensibility. The duo foregrounds weed humor (“I’m so high, you a Hobbit”), raunchy sex talk (“Ate on lamb and venison / Face-fucked you in your kitchenin”) and wisecracking put-downs (“You can all run naked backwards through a field of dicks”)—perfectly valid reactions to a distinctly grim news year. The mix of heaviness and humor helps make Run the Jewels 2 one of the year’s most powerful albums and a career-defining statement from two veterans with impressive résumés.
The pair funded the new LP, available as a free download, with a Kickstarter campaign that offered rewards both standard (T-shirts) and outlandish (a version of the album with beats made entirely from cat sounds). The latter inspired a fan campaign that raised $65,000 and is due early next year. Chuckle if you will, but take note: All proceeds go to victims of police brutality.—Andrew Frisicano