This is chin music with a grin; put-your-ass-on-the-ground-if-you-crowd-the-plate-with-a-smirk music. Killer Mike and El-P have found a lot of memorable ways to describe their chemistry as the duo Run the Jewels, but on their second album, the “top tag team for two summers,” as Mike bills them on opening cut “Jeopardy,” they’re operating at peak. On “Blockbuster Night (Part 1),” Mike delivers a wallop over producer/partner El-P’s whiplash of static and sinister thuds: “You rappers doo-doo, baby shit, just basic boo-boo/ I’m Shaka Zulu, Mansa Musa, my money beaucoup,” opposing poopy-time humor with references to a 19th-century African monarch, a 14th-century Malian emperor and a fat bankroll. These sorts of feral shit-talk soliloquies distinguished the duo’s 2013 free-download debut, and that bad-seed bluster blooms into full view on the follow-up. But Run the Jewels 2 takes a deeper, darker turn. Like Shaka, it possesses a mercurial power, part benevolent unifier, part head-on-a-stake despot. Suffused with love and hate and regret (plus the robot voice of Police Academy’s Michael Winslow on “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”), it may be the only rap album of 2014 worth trusting.
But wait, let’s rewind the jewels!