Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 3 (2LP) (Ltd Gold Vinyl)
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Titanic rap duo Run the Jewels returned with their third self-titled effort on Christmas Eve 2016. Bestowing the gift of Run the Jewels 3 weeks earlier than expected, El-P and Killer Mike managed to deliver a collection even more satisfying than 2015's sophomore installment. Whereas RTJ2 was the sound of multiple slugs to the chest, RTJ3 is as streamlined and focused as a laser blast between the eyes. Furious and hungry -- with endlessly quotable lyrical zingers to spare -- RTJ3's potency isn't as immediate as RTJ2. However, once it digs its claws in, RTJ3 reveals itself as their best work to date. The interplay between Mike and El remains the main draw, their chemistry elevating them above most contemporaries as they bounce back and forth on agile verses packed with enough outrageous boasts to fill a how-to guide on making more prudish listeners blush. The familiar RTJ sound is once again provided by the production team of El-P, Little Shalimar, and Wilder Zoby, with BOOTS making his return on a pair of album highlights. This time around, the roster of guest vocalists is as inspired as ever. Soulful singer Joi Gilliam smooths the pair's edges on the slinky opener "Down," while a wild Danny Brown verse unhinges "Hey Kids (Bumaye)." Trina holds her own and balances the brutal testosterone attack on the filthy "Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix)," the spiritual sibling to RTJ2's "Love Again (Akinyele Back).