Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels 3” (Run the Jewels)

Killer Mike and Run the Jewels partner El-P have been one of hip-hop’s hardest-hitting duos since their first collaboration arrived in 2013. However, their third album takes it all to the next level. The journey culminates in the stunning finale “A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters,” where El-P and Mike trade increasingly angry verses about the world, before stepping aside for Zach de la Rocha’s final verse.

“Can’t contain the disdain for y’all demons,” raps El. “You talk clean and bomb hospitals, so I speak with the foulest mouth possible.” Mike responds with a verse about the controversy he got tied up in during the Democratic convention and how El urged him to move forward. “El spits fire, I spit ether,” Mike rhymes. “We the gladiators that oppose all Caesars.”

The way their flows intertwine has only gotten better with age and practice, arriving at the point now where they attack the same issues equally well with differing approaches.

Though Mike’s thunderous voice always commands attention, it is often El’s groove-driven production that keeps things moving. The bounce on the sample-driven “Stay Gold” helps drive some relatively complicated ideas home by disguising them in a love song. The aggressive synths that fill “Don’t Get Captured” make Mike sound even more menacing, while the way he delivers rhymes double time on “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” makes you pay even more attention to his stream of images, even before Danny Brown arrives and wilds out.

It’s that kind of mastery that makes “Run the Jewels 3” a must-hear album that is also extraordinarily enjoyable.



Dale Watson & Ray Benson, “Dale & Ray” (Ameripolitan/Home )

Dale and Ray are two good ol’ boys having themselves a good ol’ time on their spirited debut album. Purporting to be a country tandem from Bedsore, Texas, the duo consists of honky-tonker Watson and Benson, the western swing leader of Asleep at the Wheel, two longtime Lone Star State residents. Their genial team-up introduces itself with a statement of purpose on the title track: “I like to drink Lone Star, I like to smoke pot / It makes us happy, we like it a lot.”

From there, the album never takes itself too seriously as it delights in hard-core-country home truths, with a tribute to Merle (“Feelin’ Haggard”) and a cover of Willie (“Write Your Own Songs”) as it scoots around the dance floor on “I Wish You Knew” and pines for the night before on a “Hangover Ago.”

DAN DELUCA, Philadelphia Inquirer

new releases

• xx, “I See You”

• Flaming Lips, “Oczy Mlody”

• Band of Heathens, “Duende”