Label: Fool's Gold

The counterintuitive inspiration that Brooklyn's El-P and Atlanta's Killer Mike found in working together made rap music that was, in the eyes of some (of me, for one) as good as any that came out last year. (Kendrick and ScHoolboy Q vs. Mike and El-P is a complicated and difficult running argument in my head.) So it's not surprising that Run Jewels is as great as it is. El-P's laser-beam synths circle around beats that harken back to the mid-'80s. (Killer Mike's voice repeating the word "run" at the start of the album will bring old heads back to unlaced Adidas and black fedora hats.) Fertile ground for two of the sharpest rappers to run their rhymes around. Here's hoping this is not a one-off project. These two should stay together forever. Tougher than leather. —Dave Bry