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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Run The Jewel’s newest album “RTJ4” tackles racial injustice

“Hearing lyrics so precisely and eloquently referring to racist and bigoted moments in history with such clarity is refreshing, to say the least.”
Katja Ogrin
Killer Mike and El-P of the hip hop duo, Run the Jewels.

“F*** it, why wait?”

These four words would serve to catapult the rap group Run the Jewels, better known as RTJ, from an underground indie group with a cult following to the voice of a social movement. 

Killer Mike and El-P of RTJ serve as the “murder rappers,” whose music is the perfect background to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“The world is infested with bulls*** so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy, ” said RTJ in a June 3 Instagram statement to fans.

The duo’s newest album, “RTJ4,” was released two days early, while protests, sit-ins and marches calling for racial  justice continued to rock the nation. 

Run the Jewels is known for being edgy and pushing the line on political and social issues. With their “RTJ4” album, they have not just pushed the lines, but burned them down. 

They serve listeners an unabashedly raw take on the Black Lives Matter movement– an event so significant that it had resonated with millions of Americans who took to the streets with their own anger. With this fourth installment, the duo evolves from goofy, lovable characters in their own stories, to producing something that not only mattered, but opened the eyes of anyone who listened. 

The album itself is a love story to the people: to those who have, are and will struggle and those who need a voice. This album also holds listeners accountable for their own power and knowledge while recognizing the struggle of equality and the broad spectrum of injustice. 

In a harrowing line, Killer Mike raps “so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me/and til’ my voice goes from a shriek to a whisper, I can’t breathe” in the song “Walking in the Snow.”

These lines punch through any notion that one can turn a blind eye to these events, but instead get right to the issue. The murders of Eric Garner, George Floyd and so many others. The murders that enraged so many, that spurred a movement so large that change was called for from all corners of the world. Hearing lyrics so precisely and eloquently referring to racist and bigoted moments in history with such clarity is refreshing, to say the least. 

Run the Jewels enables the audience to feel their rage, to let them know it is justified and that they are not alone. Every line in this album is not only beautifully and carefully crafted, but it is masterfully delivered. 

This group went from making jokes about punching baby bears to honing in on something that is so rarely mentioned in the music industry. The album draws you in with the upbeat music, fast tempo and well-crafted lyrics, but it still keeps you invested with the heartfelt and meaningful message. Killer Mike and El-P have lyrically never been more serious, angry or justified. 

Not only do the rappers bring their own unique take on issues, they enlist well known artists such as 2 Chainz and Pharrell Williams to tracks like “Ju$t.” 

Pharrell raps “look at all these slave masters posin’ on yo’ dolla (get it?)” which is a taste of the deeper meaning to every lyric on RTJ4. 

This song in particular brings to light the systemic racism that has been widely ignored by those who run the nation- a fact these three artists cast into the spotlight for the world to see and interpret, in their own genius way. 

The music on “RTJ4” is out of control in the best way possible. It immediately engages the listener and has them bobbing along from the first track on. In the first six songs, the music is upbeat, it draws you right in and keeps you entertained. The last five songs are noticeably heavier. The music becomes slower, suspenseful and gets you ready for all they have to say. In the last track, the use of saxophone among other instruments serves to finish the story on a note that listeners need to hear. It captivates you. It moves you. The passion and grief, the hard and good times. All of it is present on the 11 tracks on “RTJ4”. 

The rappers finally matured into what they have been striving to be. The allies we need, the voices we should hear and the messengers of the people.

Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyFairchi14.

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About the Contributor
Ashley Fairchild, Asst. Copy Editor | she/her
Ashley is a senior majoring in print/web Journalism. Outside of Suffolk, she can typically still be found with her nose in a book and her hand wrapped around a coffee mug. She enjoys lifting weights, finding new cafes and most importantly, playing with her dog, Pepper.
Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyFairchi14

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Run The Jewel’s newest album “RTJ4” tackles racial injustice