Hip-hop Duo Run the Jewels Releases New Reimagining of RTJ4, RTJ CU4TRO

The rap genre has produced several iconic duos over the course of its history. Acts like Atlanta’s Outkast featuring Big Boi and Andre 3000, California’s Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, and Texas’ UGK featuring Bun B and Pimp C have all found success. One of the most prominent active rap duos in the US is the American rap group Run the Jewels. Consisting of Brooklyn rapper and producer Jaime Meline aka El-P and Atlanta rapper Michael Render aka Killer Mike, Run the Jewels is a collaboration of northern and southern Hip-hop. Now, Run the Jewels are back with RTJ CU4TRO. The duo released this latest reimagined album on November 16th, 2022 via the Jewel Runners/BMG labels.

RTJ CU4TRO Album Cover art design by Edoardo Chavarin

Run the Jewels hit the scene with their self-titled debut album Run the Jewels, which they released in 2013 as a free download. The subsequent releases of 2014’s Run the Jewels 2, 2016’s Run the Jewels 3, and 2020’s RTJ4 have cemented the duo as a force within the Hip-hop landscape. Known for their hard-hitting beats and even harder-hitting political messages, the duo has amassed consistent critical and commercial success.

RTJ CU4TRO is a reimagining of 2020’s RTJ4. New listeners should check out this remix of Run the Jewels’ “ooh la la” featuring Lil Wayne for an idea of that album’s sound, which was a high-energy, politically charged entry into the RTJ discography. This time, El-P and Killer Mike enlist long-time collaborators El Producto and Nick Hook to curate & co-executive produce the project, a collaboration between Run the Jewels and an array of contributing ​​artists from across the Latin American diaspora. It boasts a truly massive lineup of artists from various genres.

Photo of Nick Hook and Akapella courtesy of Jewel Runners/BMG

One of the collaborators is Latin Grammy-nominated Venezuelan rapper Akapellah. On his experience working on RTJ CU4TRO he had this to say:

“It’s a pleasure for me to be part of such an amazing body of work. CU4TRO will lead to a huge change in the way we connect. We made great music from the bottom of our hearts for the world, and by combining different sounds & views, we hope it will eventually lead to a revolution & revelation within all of our cultures.”

The full list of names includes Akapellah, Apache, Baco Exo do Blues, Bomba Estereo, Danny Brasco, Iggor Cavalera, Henry D’Arhenay, Orestes, Gomez, El Individuo, Last Jeronimo, Lido Pimienta, Mas Aya, Mexican Institute Of Sound, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pawmps, Sarah La Morena, Santa Fe Klan, Son Rompe, Pera, Toy Selectah, Adrian Terrazas-Gonzalez, TROOKO, and Yoga Fire. With each feature comes a distinct tweak to the Run the Jewels sound, and another added dimension to an already dynamic musical experience.

Run The Jewels photo courtesy of Jonathan Mannion

The album opens with “yankee y el valiente-TROOKO’s Versión.” It features a reimagining of the song “Yankee and the brave (ep. 4)” courtesy of Honduras-born, L.A.-based producer Jeffrey Peñalva aka TROOKO. TROOKO flips the original’s aggressive trip-hop instrumentation into a cumbia-inspired beat with Latin percussion that makes the listener’s hips want to swivel.

The first single, “​caminando en la nieve (Orestes Gomez & Nick Hook’s Versión),” features Venezuelan artists Akapellah, Apache Las Minas & Pawmps. It opens with the dirty guitar and thriller string sample from the original “Walking in the Snow” track. The song’s first verse comes from El-P, with Pawmps ad-libbing over his thoughts on mass incarceration and detention centers. In the second verse, Akapellah comes in with so much heat the beat is forced to flip to match his flow. Pawmps then raps the chorus before Killer Mikes delivers his politically-charged verse. The song closes with another spitfire verse, this time from Apache. Although the instrumentation is not drastically different from the original, it’s exhilarating to hear these artists getting a shot at it and absolutely killing it.

“JU$T (Toy Selectah Versión)” employs a mesmerizing new mix that features trap beats, Bossanova piano, and a fiery horn section, as well as features from two disparate music legends. One is famed producer, musician, and member of N.E.R.D. Pharrell Williams, who employs a laid-back approach to his delivery. The song also includes Rage Against the Machine frontman and frequent Run the Jewels collaborator Zack de la Rocha who brings his signature high-pitched snarl to deliver his verse. The chorus repeats the incendiary commentary “Look at all these slave masters posin’ on yo’ dollar,” in the chorus, underscoring that Run the Jewels aren’t afraid to make a political statement.

The album has a diverse array of artists and arrangements that highlight the many influences of its contributors. The track “​goonies contra E.T. (Danny Brasco & Nick Hook’s Versión)” featuring El Individuo and Sara La Morena has clear trap and drill influences with an eerie piano line. ​Meanwhile, the Bomba Estéreo-mixed “nunca mirar hacia atrás” pulls synths straight from the dancefloor of an 80’s club to create a melancholic, danceable track.

RTJ CU4TRO is an excellent reimagining of RTJ4, and serves as excellent exposure for artists from the Latinx diaspora. It encourages listeners who are interested to dive deeper into the discography of Run the Jewels and all of the featured contributors.

Make sure to check out RTJ CU4TRO and the rest of Run the Jewels’ discography on Spotify. To stay up to date on all of the latest RTJ news, tours, and releases, make sure to follow them on InstagramFacebookTwitter, or visit their website. 

Lyndon Nicholas is a writer, educator, and blerd based in Brooklyn, NY. He is interested in covering music, entertainment, literature, pop culture, anime, and video games. He is also currently working on a collection of speculative short fiction. Keep up with his latest work by following him on Instagram at @ezlbreezy or checking out his website https://lyndonnichol.wixsite.com/website
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Lyndon Nicholas is a writer, educator, and blerd based in Brooklyn, NY. He is interested in covering music, entertainment, literature, pop culture, anime, and video games. He is also currently working on a collection of speculative short fiction. Keep up with his latest work by following him on Instagram at @ezlbreezy or checking out his website https://lyndonnichol.wixsite.com/website

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