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Whether its Billie Holiday, N.W.A., or Rage Against The Machine, each social movement throughout our history has had its share of complimentary protest music. Often inspired by pain, but somehow conveying hope, this music transcends genre and generations alike. In 2020, Run The Jewels’ cements their name in the history books as they continue work to inspire meaningful change through their activism and music.

Following the senseless killing of George Floyd, an emotional Killer Mike appeared before the nation alongside Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to plead with his city, “that it is [their] duty not to burn [their] house down for anger with an enemy”. Three days later, he and El-P dropped their long-anticipated project, RTJ4. While it was recorded over the span of a few months prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is filled with fight music that couldn’t be more suitable to the current level of civil unrest in our cities today. I figured it was a fitting soundtrack and gave it an initial spin on my drive to downtown Los Angeles to document a Black Lives Matter protest. Let’s jump into a few moments of this album.

The first stand out moment to me was the lead single, “Ooh La La”. This track sets the tone for the album as El-P and Killer Mike trade braggadocio bars while sprinkling in elements of militant activism over El-P’s bouncy eccentric jazz rap instrumental. The video (included below) depicts a world the “Day the long-fought battle between humanity and the forces of greed and division [ended].” In this presentation, the rappers take to the streets to celebrate the end of the monetary system and the classism it fosters. The imagery of hundred-dollar bills torched, police helicopters overhead, and a party ensuring in the street wasn’t far off from the realities in our cities the week before.

A cornerstone of Run The Jewel’s sound is the emcees’ seamless ability to effortlessly trade bars back and forth. The two trade tongue twisting bars on what is sonically my favorite “rap” song on the project. 2 Chainz is a surprising guest as this wasn’t the song for his signature silly jokes and adlibs, but being the hip-hop veteran that he is, 2 Chainz gives us his best shot at a high paced, high energy, multi-syllabic verse. While I was entertained and appreciate his efforts, compared to El-P and Killer Mike, 2 Chainz may have found himself in the wrong lane.

The most powerful moment to me was on the song, “Walking In The Snow”. Killer Mike raps, “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”. I automatically related this bar to the death of George Floyd. But it dawned on me that this song was written before his death and was actually a reference to the death of Eric Garner. It’s hauntingly chilling that this is more than a coincidence. This is a pattern in America, and it needs to stop.

There are many more moments like this on the album. Moments that make you feel scared, sad, and angry. But there are other moments which inspire you to stand up, make your voice heard, and fight back. All around, RTJ4 is a fine tuned, action packed project, with banger after banger of relevant protest music. Its timeless message and modern approach to old school hip hop make this a necessary addition to your collection.

RTJ4 is available for free download over at All they ask is that you donate what you can (no donation necessary) to the Mass Defense Program which a network of lawyers, legal workers, and law students who provide legal support to political activists, protesters, and movements for social change. Head over there, donate, download, and join the movement.

PS – Check out a few photos I captured while I was at the peaceful protest in Los Angeles, California.


As always, rock on my friends!     Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.7 out of 10

Artist:  Run the Jewels,  LP: RTJ4 ,   Release Date: June 5th, 2020,   Label:  Jewel Runners / BMG


Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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