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Run The Jewels Releases RTJ4 an Anthem for the Times

We are in turbulent times. Last week the killing of George Floyd by Police set off a powder keg in the United States. Protests against the systemic killings of black men and women by Law Enforcement erupted in Minneapolis where Mr. Floyd was killed. It quickly spread across the nation to Louisville where Breonna Taylor was murdered by police in March, to Georgia where Ahmaud Arbery suffered a modern lynching by white civilians, and to other major cities. These protests were met by over-militarized law enforcement who attacked peaceful protestors with extreme force that has resulted in countless injuries to civilians, the unlawful detainments of journalists, and has even resulted in the death of more black Americans. The actions of our nation’s law enforcement have proven that these protests are necessary to fight against oppression and racism. It is with these truths that it feels necessary that Run The Jewels has released their newest album, RTJ4, a few days early. Their music and narrative have never felt more appropriate.

The duo of Killer Mike and EL-P have fought against racism, police brutality, corruption, and inequality from the onset of the project. Their previous releases like “Kill Your Masters”, “Early” — which imagines Killer Mike killed by a police officer –, and “Close Your Eyes (and Count to F*ck)” with its accompanying music video that emphasizes police brutality, have all detailed and served as anthems against the evil that still persists in the United States and across the globe.

Their second album, Run The Jewels 2, was released against the backdrop of the police killing of the unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, where the themes of the album rang true with ferocious poignancy. Six years later, nothing has changed and the duo is once again releasing an album at a time when Black Americans are dying unnecessarily giving credence to the messages and ideas that bellow from the album.

Take for example, these lyrics from Killer Mike on “walking in the snow”:

And every day on evening news they feed you fear for free

And you so numb you watch the cops choke out a man like me


And ’til my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, ‘I can’t breathe’

And you sit there in the house on couch and watch it on TV

The most you give’s a Twitter rant and call it a tragedy

But truly the travesty, you’ve been robbed of your empathy

Or take these lyrics from “yankee and the brave (ep. 4)”:

I got one round left, a hunnid cops outside

I could shoot at them or put one between my eyes

Chose the latter, it don’t matter, it ain’t suicide

And if the news say it was that’s a goddamn lie

I can’t let the pigs kill me, I got too much pride

And I meant it when I said it, never take me alive.

This album was recorded last fall, but yet these lyrics could easily be about what is on-going here in the United States. Run The Jewels aren’t clairvoyant. America just hasn’t changed and the duo unapologetically speaks the truth. A Truth that we all need to hear more than ever.

In addition to listening to the album, I highly suggest viewing to Killer Mike’s emotional speech to the Atlanta protestors, which he gave only five days ago. That can be found here. Another incredible and thought-provoking thing Killer Mike is a part of is the documentary series Trigger Warning that sees him explore the issues that affect black Americans. You can watch the series on Netflix.

RTJ4 was released as a free download and can be downloaded here. In conjunction, the duo has also provided a list of organizations that are fighting for justice, change, and equity in America, including their longtime allies the National Lawyers Guild. The NLG provides legal representation that abides by its mission statement: “To use law for the people, uniting lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people by valuing human rights and ecosystems over property interests.” Their services provide representation to lawful protestors, amongst many other incredible works. You can find out more information on the National Lawyers Guild here. The full list of organizations approved by Run The Jewels can be found here.

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