Music

Run the Jewels - "Legend Has It" (Singles Going Steady)

"Legend Has It" is particularly politically charged, and El-P and Killer Mike deserve all the praise they get as they throw down trenchant rhymes.

Paul Carr: Since their inception, Run the Jewels has set the bar phenomenally high, and with every new single they seem to manage to vault cleanly over it. Here they mix a deceptively simple backing with their thunderous flow with words flipping and leaping like salmon during mating season. As always they blend a serious contemporary message with their wry sense of humor. The call and response bridge is remarkably effective, showing that this isn’t just a band, this is an institution. [9/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: It’s hard to say anything meaningful about Run the Jewels’ music since it so emphatically speaks for itself, but they deserve to be written about. Run the Jewels 3 might have been the most relevant album of the past year, and Run the Jewels might be the most relevant duo of the current musical age. "Legend Has It" is no exception; the video is particularly politically charged, and El-P and Killer Mike deserve all the praise they get as they throw down trenchant rhymes. Plenty of rappers write about how great they are, but few with the totally justified aplomb of Run the Jewels. [8/10]

Mike Schiller: It shouldn't be any surprise that Killer Mike sounds more comfortable with the triplet-focused rhythms of "Legend Has It". We've been hearing him do that since he was guesting on OutKast records. El-P does fine, though we may be hitting a tipping point on his phallic obsession. "Legend Has It" is definitely Run the Jewels -- that is to say, if it was the first thing we'd heard from El and Mike, it would be fantastic -- but at this point, it's just what we expect of them. The burden of high expectations is starting to weigh on perceptions of Run the Jewels. That said, the video's commentary on the American penal system is a nice touch. [7/10]

Steve Horowitz: The rap just keeps comin' at ya with the flow flowing without really saying nothing. After Run the Jewels' activism during the recent presidential election, it's difficult not to see this as a retreat into the personal. However, taken as it's own the beat the beat the beat is not a beat down as much as a pounding reminder that Run the Jewels are still here and not going away anytime soon no matter what. As Liberty Valance fans know, "When the legend becomes fact print the legend." Run the Jewels may invoke legendary credentials but this seems forced rather than earned. [6/10]

Jordan Blum: Run the Jewels is one of my favorite hip-hop artists, and this track is a great example of their style: aggressive yet welcoming attitudes, colorful and fun backing tracks, and highly quotable verses. Whereas a lot of genre artists seem ultra serious about their self-hype, Run the Jewels approaches it with a more tongue-in-cheek attitude. As for the video, it’s fittingly humorous and creative, especially since it goes against many of the typical hip-hop music video cliches. I really like the whole package. [9/10]

SCORE: 7.80

Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
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