New Music Reviews

Killer Mike ft. El-P’s Don’t Let the Devil: Uncut Run the Jewels on a Solo Record

Killer Mike has not put out a solo record since R.A.P. Music in 2012, which was produced by Run the Jewels collaborator, and featured artist on this single, EL-P. It is this partnership that birthed the hip hop juggernaut Run the Jewels with their first record in 2013. You can argue that Run the Jewels became the best hip hop super duo since Mos Def and Talib Kweli’s Black Star. This part side project part hip hop experiment consumed both Killer Mike’s and El-P’s creative energy as they put out four records and featured on albums from Black Thought and Danger Mouse’s Cheat Codes to a track with Royal Bloods. Now Killer Mike is back in the studio, but not before teaming up for some Run the Jewels fun.

This track has some electric beats complete with looping gospel samples. This not only serves to give you some great Run the Jewels hints, but the gospel links to broader religious themes in Don’t Let the Devil. El-P and Killer Mike have mastered bringing the vocal delivery and musical energy to 11 and this track jumps. Not only do the beats give the song some drive, but fits each of their deliveries perfectly. At a touch under 3 minutes this track really flies and is stuffed full of bass and percussion to really get your heart pumping.

There are classic Run the Jewels touchstones in this track. Mike starts with referencing “Jewel Runners,” while El-P name checks Run the Jewels at the end of his set. The track itself has religious references to Jesus, the Devil, Lord and the spiritual nature of marijuana. There is a larger theme here of “the world going to hell” with references to gun violence how the devil can get you and “thoughts and prayers” which seem to go unanswered in a world of AK – 47s and uzis. Having said that, the love between Killer Mike and El-P also shines through. There are constant references to “super groupin”, “two gunners” and using the word “we” to signify that they are in this hellish world together.

I guess that is the point. In the midst of the devil and all that is wrong in the world, Killer Mike and El-P will always have each other to get them through it. Run the Jewels is more than a hip hop duo, it’s a brotherly love that will help them get through anything. In the midst of all this lyrical dexterity and fire bars, there’s love. In that sense, it is only fitting that Killer Mike’s solo record has a lead single that is basically a Run the Jewel’s track…because they will always be there to support each other and celebrate the other’s success. Oh yeah, this is also a fire track.

Listen to Don’t Let the Devil

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