The two most important things to happen in the last six months are the release of Run the Jewels 3 — the collaboration albums of rapper Killer Mike and rapper/producer El-P — plus the 2016 season of the Seattle Seahawks. Call me biased if you must, but tell me another album more important than RtJ3.
Run the Jewels, for my money, are The Beatles of our generation. It’s not just that the music is impeccable, but the message connected to it is as important as any lyrics you’ve heard in the last decade. When the youth of 2040 are looking for their “classic” inspirational bands and songs of the 2010s, Run the Jewels will be at the forefront.
Released on Christmas Eve, 2016, Run the Jewels 3 features as many perfect hits as Run the Jewels 1 and 2, if not more. I can’t think of a more perfect trio of albums in my lifetime, perhaps only competing with Kill ‘em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets by Metallica in terms of what changed my life.
That being said, there is more to RtJ3 than meets the eye. I went through the entire catalog for RtJ3 and found numerous striking similarities between the album and the heartbreaking season for Seattle. Here’s what I found. What would you like to add?
Track 1 - Down (feat. Joi)
As expected, Run the Jewels 3 kicks off with an upbeat tone by El-P that gives the listener what I can only best describe as the feeling of everlasting energy. Within the first 10 seconds of the album, you know that it’s going to give you the same feeling of satisfaction as RtJ1 and RtJ2, but let’s turn our attention to the hyper-relevant chorus on Down:
My my, y'all / I coulda died, y'all / A couple times I took my eyes off the prize, y'all / I know a few people pray for my demise, y'all / But like cream, I had to rise, I had to rise, y'all
Oh my, y'all / I coulda died, y'all / A couple times, I took my eyes off the prize, y'all / I know a couple people pray for my demise, y'all / But even birds with broken wings want to fly, y'all
Even birds with broken wings want to fly.
The chorus describes an entity of high status who has enemies of lower status praying for their demise. Obviously in this case, it’s the same feeling of being a team that has been to two recent Super Bowls and established itself as a perennial regular in the final eight, just like the Seahawks. The people who pray for said demise may have gotten their wish when Russell Wilson suffered a high ankle sprain, MCL sprain, and pectoral injury during the season, limiting his abilities and doing serious damage to Seattle’s Super Bowl aspirations. However, Wilson didn’t miss a single game because even birds aka Hawks with broken wings still want to fly.
I also believe that while the team never took its eyes off the prize, aka the Lombardi, many fans were quick to dismiss the notion of the Seahawks making a deep playoff run this year after some poor offensive outputs and the loss of Earl Thomas.
Track 2 - Talk To Me
“Talk To Me” is one 1970s kung-fu clip away from being on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Which means that it’s great.
Some key phrases here:
“I move in a world of conspiracies” — Obvious reference to Pete Carroll.
“Militant Michael might go psycho, on any ally or rival” — This could not be any more clear. Michael Bennett had numerous training camp altercations with his own teammates (ally) and of course, with dozens of rivals. He stands down to nobody.
And El-P continues in the second verse: “We a good crew to fuck with, better to love”
Can’t disagree there.
Track 3 - Legend Has It
This beat is insane. The whole track is not of this world.
First off, let’s talk about the line “RT & J, we the new PB & J” and what that means for the Seahawks, as if it wasn’t obvious enough already.
Carroll’s plan for the offense has to center around a successful quarterback, running back, and receiver/tight end. In this case, the plan from the beginning was for it to be Russell Wilson (R), Thomas Rawls (T), and Jimmy Graham (J). Injuries setback Rawls, while Graham took a couple weeks to get back up to speed. In that time, we definitely saw the continued rise of Doug Baldwin (B) and plenty of use from Jermaine Kearse (J), but by the playoffs, it was time for Paul Richardson (P). PBJ.
Then Verse 2 by El-P clearly directs to the reputation of Richard Sherman:
“I became famous for flamin’ you fucks.”
Then Killer Mike back for Verse 3:
“We are the murderous pair” - Thomas and Kam Chancellor, clearly.
Though they both went through some injuries, and trials, and tribulations this season:
“That went to jail and we murdered the murderers there / Then went to Hell and discovered the devil / Delivered some hurt and despair”
Then El-P mentions Baldwin, saying, “Droppin’ a thousand ain’t that much” in reference to Doug’s second-straight 1,000-yard season, before finally talking about their playoff matchup against the Detroit Lions:
“We move among the ones you think are meek / You think I'm lion, you right, see my teeth / Don't be a bore when I'm roaring vamoose / Hunting's no fun when your prey doesn't move”
Here, El-P is talking about how the Lions were a good opponent and they respected them but ultimately they had to show them respect because winning a playoff game is meaningless if you don’t respect your opponent.
Track 4 - Call Ticketron
This track immediately calls me back to one of the greatest rap albums of all-time, “A New Dope” by 7L & Esoteric. Specifically this reminds me of the song “Play Dumb” but also some hints of “The Most,” which is unequivocally one of the greatest tracks ever produced. But I digress as Esoteric couldn’t have possibly known about the 2016 Seattle Seahawks in the way that RtJ clearly does.
Even before I got to the most obvious allusion to the divisional round, I knew this song was about the Falcons. Starting here:
“You can tell by the stench in the air / Blood's on the ground, opportunity is here / I'm lookin' into space like, "Is anybody there?”
The red blood on the ground, the opportunity of advancing the to the NFC Championship, but even more obviously, the reference to aliens. Why aliens? Well, ATLiens, of course. By the end of the verse, Killer Mike doesn’t even mince words about it anymore: “Smoke signal ET, ATLiens here.”
E.T. being Earl Thomas, who could not be there for the game, and the Atlanta Falcons were ready to take full advantage of that.
“Travel by backflip, eat from the river, the panther heart taught to talk by smart chicks / Sip pure venom and skipped away grinnin' / I put that on mom, she ain't raise a Vic”
HE QUITE LITERALLY MADE A REFERENCE TO VIC BEASLEY. This is not a reference to being raised to be the victim, as some would have you believe, it’s about not being raised to deliver as much of a pass rush as Vic Beasley, which is a part of the reason that Seattle’s pass rush didn’t put enough pressure on Matt Ryan.
Track 5 - Hey Kids (Bumaye) (feat. Danny Brown)
At this point you must be saying that I’m crazy. That I’m stretching the lyrics to fit the narrative that RtJ3 is actually about the Seahawks. Yeah, you’re probably right. Nothing to do with the Seahawks whatsoever. Nothing at all ...
“Woo! I'm the man, bitch, got big ideas, got plans to rob / Any Rothschild living, Bill Gates, and the ghost of Jobs / Yeah I said it, I meant it, I ain't flinch'n, Marshawn Lynch'n it / Run through a motherfucker's face like ig'nant, isn't it”
In Verse 2, El-P talks about how Seattle had first half problems this season, once again:
“I lived half my life to give half my cash to these half-man imps, aye / They got half a heart, they give half a fuck, they got half the guns, woo! / I got half an hour, I'll burn half a pound and I have to run”
Track 6 - Stay Gold
Now isn’t this interesting ...
The hook for Stay Gold goes as such:
“I got a bad girl, I got a brain-with-an-ass girl / She got a mean bop, I got a lean to the way I walk / And they get it like gold”
So who is this “bad girl” you ask? For El-P, it’s his longtime girlfriend Emily Panic. A lot of fans panicked this season when the Seahawks were unable to put up any points, the worst offense of which may have come against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they lost 14-5. If they had won that game, Seattle would have secured the two-seed in the NFC. All 14 of the Bucs points that day came from wide receiver Mike Evans, whose middle name is Lynn. That means his initials are M.L.E.
M.L.E. = Panic.
Track 7 - Don’t Get Captured
I mean, how could we possibly describe this as a coincidence anymore after reading this:
“Hello from a Little Shop of Horrors / Ski mask like a Phantom of the Opera”
I think it’s clear by now but just in case you aren’t getting it: In Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera, the character Christine Daae ... well, I’ll just relay to you the Wikipedia entry:
Madame Giry, the Opéra's ballet mistress, tells Firmin and André that Christine Daaé, a Swedish chorus girl and orphaned daughter of a prominent violinist, has been "well taught" and could sing Carlotta's role. With cancellation of the performance their only alternative, the owners reluctantly audition Christine, and to their surprise she is equal to the challenge.
The opera needed someone to replace the starter and so they turned to someone who they had little faith in named Christine and she turned out to do quite well. Sound familiar? Come! On! People! Don’t you see?
But here’s what the Seahawks ultimately decided with Christine Michael and the chain he wears around his neck during games:
“You ain't really need that chain / You ain't really need that ring / You ain't really need them thangs”
Track 8 - Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost) (Feat. Tunde Abebimpe)
Lots of stuff about Russell Wilson in here:
(Spoke with a ghost) Late night, same night, "God, let me sleep, please, I'm begging you" / (Said, "Don't be afraid") Daylight might never break right again once they get at you / (Said, "You'll never be alone again") This house is haunted by pain transposed into revenue / ("The murdered all stay") That thing when your mind says "run" but your heart isn't letting you”
Notice the references to #NoTime2Sleep as Wilson tries to learn how to make time for sleep. And to marrying Ciara. “You’ll never be alone again.” And finally to “run but your heart isn’t letting you,” referring to Wilson’s bum legs that for the first time in his career wouldn’t allow him to gain big yards on the ground. Uncanny.
Killer Mike and El-P throw in a bonus verse about the Super Bowl:
“Coming live at five, we got new news breaking / You heard it here first if you don't die waiting / Hard to review the scene I just seen / I'ma try to convey, but it defies explaining / Started with folks just crying / Nothing but broken hearts, sobs, and the shriek of the sirens / Right at the spot where the blood's still drying / (My God) I saw it, the dead began rising”
Bonus: Seahawks tight end Nick Vannett, much like Run the Jewels, sees ghosts.
Looks like #Seahawks rookie tight end Nick Vannett has made some new friends in Seattle.Posted by Field Gulls: For Seattle Seahawks News and Analysis on Friday, October 7, 2016
Track 9 - 2100 (Feat. BOOTS)
A nice key takeway from this song:
“You defeat the devil when you hold onto hope”
The only team to beat Tom Brady this season was the Seattle Seahawks. Not a lot of Seattle fans had hope going into the game, but the players held onto it, and came away victorious over the NFL “devils.”
Track 10 - Panther like a Panther (Miracle Mix) (Feat. Trina)
Funny how the title of the song says “Panther” instead of “Panthers” and yet the word is mentioned twice, so it actually is about Panthers, plural. Hmmm. Also it’s called the “Miracle Mix” in the the Seahawks could not pull off the miracle comeback in 2015 but this is a new mix.
The chorus here repeats this line twice: “We looking at the money like it's ours to get, I'm the shit bitch” — After much debate, Seattle’s own “Killer Mike,” aka Michael Bennett, got the pay raise and extension that he long desired in 2016.
Mike also makes an interesting reference to San Francisco owner Jed York when he says: “Who thought the son of Denise would be the leader of people?” — of course referring to Denise DeBartolo York, Jed’s mother. Nobody thought he should be a leader and sure enough the 49ers went 2-14.
Track 11 - Everybody Stay Calm
Everybody Stay Calm lives up to its name by serving as the palate cleanser of RtJ3. Once you’ve been bombarded with incredibly hard, beautiful, unstoppable tracks, ESC reminds us to hit that escape button and take a deep breath before the fourth quarter.
At one point, Killer Mike pops into an El-P verse to say: “Hey El, the AR's an option for any asshole wanna talk and pop shit”
Is “AR” referring to a rifle? Maybe, but most likely it’s referring to defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin. Talk shit about the Seattle defense and get yourself stuffed with elite defensive tackle “AR.”
Track 12 - Oh Mama
“I heard it in Brooklyn where all the sinners stay / You running out of ways to go fuck yourself, I will innovate”
Speaking of ways to fuck yourself in New York:
Track 13 - Thursday in the Danger Room (Feat. Kamasi Washington)
At this point, why not just a summation of the entire season?
“How do you feel 'bout yourself when you know that sometimes you had wished they were gone?
Not because you didn't love 'em but just because you felt too weak to be strong
You couldn't bear to see someone who prided themselves on the strength to feel weak
The cruelty of randomness, hold it for ransom, that life will not fade in your dreams
You see that they're fighting and know that they're losing but still you make jokes and you laugh
'Cause you know despite all the sadness that you better get the good times while they last”
Track 14 - A Report to the Shareholders / Kill Your Masters (Feat. Zach de la Rocha)
Well, isn’t it “convenient” that they would get the lead singer of Rage Against the Machine to do their final song on RtJ3? It’s long-rumored that Wilson is a machine, so it’s clear now that the album isn’t necessarily pro-Seahawks even if it is all about the Seahawks.