Run the Jewels rap duo Killer Mike and El-P dropped their long-awaited album RTJ4 in a surprise release on June 3.
Their fourth album was slated for release on June 5, but the artists decided to bump things up in response to growing national protests over the killing of George Floyd.
“Fuck it, why wait,” the duo wrote on Instagram. “The world is infested with bullshit so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy. Stay safe and hopeful out there.”
RTJ4, which is a follow-up to Run the Jewels 3, is available for a free download on their website. On their site, the rappers ask listeners to donate upon checkout to varying organizations dedicated to racial justice, such as the National Lawyers Guild.
The album can also be streamed on services like Spotify, and features a stacked guest list including 2 Chainz, Pharrell Williams, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, gospel legend Mavis Staples, and frequent collaborator Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine.
The Rappers are Using the Launch to Raise Awareness
RTJ has built a reputation for itself based on the strategic timing of its release dates, which typically address racism, police brutality and corruption.
The group’s second and third albums came out on the heels of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer, and the 2016 presidential election, roughly.
Now, RTJ is using its fourth album to raise awareness about police brutality amid national unrest over George Floyd’s death.
Scores of riots erupted nationwide last week after a harrowing video emerged of former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes.
El-P took to Twitter to encourage listeners to donate to the NLG Mass Defense Fund, as well as other charities listed on the Run the Jewels site.
A few of the organizations include Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Legal Defense Initiative, The Bail Project and Committee to Protect Journalists.
Killer Mike also delivered a heartfelt speech to Atlanta protesters, urging them to take their anger and frustrations to the polls.
“I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing black men die,” he tearfully expressed during the May 30 news conference.
He added that he understood why some protesters wanted to be violent, but that it is their “duty not to burn your own house down.”
RTJ4’s Message is All in The Lyrics
RTJ4 has received a wave of praise online, including a trending spot on Twitter.
Fans are commending the album’s lyrics for being “timely” and relevant.”
Mike opens RTJ4 with a nod to police violence.
His lyrics set the scene for a scenario in which the rapper kills himself knowing that the cops would’ve instead.
“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.”
— Killer Mike
The Rolling Stone gave the album two thumbs up, claiming that it never “feels preachy, because the music bounces as much as it brays, with an elastic flow and deep history.”
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