"Nobody Speak", the recent single from DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels, is the perfect pairing of producer and MCs. As DJ Shadow said himself, "Occasionally, I make a beat that demands a specific vocal treatment and attitude. In the case of 'Nobody Speak,' I wasn't going to settle for anyone other than Run The Jewels; in my mind, it was them or no one."
DJ Shadow's beat manages to be hard and a bit silly at the same time. The brass and saxophone heighten the mood while also bordering on cartoonishness. The descending guitar and bass lines also add to the tension, and the synthesizer interlude after the second verse is completely bonkers and delightful.
And then there's Run the Jewels. Their characteristically over-the-type rhymes and ridiculous boasts are the perfect complement to DJ Shadow's bombastic beat. Killer Mike's first verse is particularly vicious, and hilarious:
I am crack
I ain't lying; kick a lion in his crack
I'm the shit, I will fall off in your crib, take a shit
Pinch your momma on the booty, kick your dog, fuck your bitch
Fat boy dressed up like he's Santa and took pictures with your kids
The word play at the beginning is ingenious, but the hypotheticals that follow are completely off the hook. Take a crap at your house? Take Santa pictures with your kids? Kick your dog, for heaven's sake? The swagger is so ridiculous and creative that it is actually quite endearing - a curious paradox that Run the Jewels frequently achieves.
RTJ have been making this type of in your face, take no prisoners music since 2013, serving as a mainline injection of adrenaline-fueled badassery into the heart of hip hop. And judging by their fantastic performance of "Nobody Speak" on Fallon earlier this month, they're showing no signs of slowing down.