It’s been ten days since Mike and Jaime’s Christmas Fucking Miracle, which means it’s probably about time to talk about the surprise release. However, it’s been only four days since I first had a chance to RTJ3, so I’m not quite ready to share too many words on it. In the meantime, this is a definite highlight track:
El-P’s verse about Camu Tao, his friend and former collaborator who died of lung cancer, is touching and honest, but Killer Mike steals the show, concluding a verse about a murdered friend by directly confronting the shooter:
“No killer was captured, but I know he listening
So I’d like to tell you in song
The streets was a jungle, I pray that you made it, I hope that you righted your wrongs
I hope that you learn, I hope that you changed so your mama won’t know this pain
So my homie’s name will mean something more than a nigga got killed for a chain.”
The anti-violence hip hop track is common, but this kind of forgiveness is rare. Mike, who begins the verse with a variation on the old eye-for-eye/blind trope, isn’t interested in pointing fingers at individuals, victims caught in the same trap as he and his friend were. He is using his talents and his platform to bring attention to a crooked system, to spread love, to acknowledge that there is something more transformative than punishment. He shows a great faith in humanity, the belief that people are capable of listening to reason to rise up and change their own future the way he did. He’s exactly the voice we need this year.