Don’t Tell Me Who to Love: Run The Jewels’ “Love Again” Video

Thomas Johnson breaks down rap's sexiest song, Run the Jewels' "Love Again."
By    April 25, 2016


Thomas Johnson can tell you a thing or two about the birds and the bees.

“Love Again” is an anthem. Considering it’s a love song written with a phallic hook, it makes sense that the video would treat the subject matter with as much/little subtlety. A run-of-the-mill rap video concerned with love via sex would ostensibly feature instances of love via sex. It would probably include a Maxwell cameo. Not this time. El-P and Killer Mike’s careers have been built upon rejection of cliche, so it only makes sense that their carnal hymn would be displayed through the sex lives of insects and plants, without so much as featuring a rose petal.

It’s a brand of imagery that would pass over a 1st grader’s head and gobsmack anyone outside that age bracket.  Killer Mike becomes a moth drooling with lechery. El-P, a lascivious bumble bee partaking in a particularly sloppy pollination session. Gangsta Boo is portrayed by a Venus Fly Trap tickled pink that smokes after sex. I’ll refrain from unspooling the rest because love is an amorphous transcendent force that means different things to different flowers.

But different flowers demand the same levels of respect, and that, not the hook is what makes “Love Again” truly powerful. El-P is oh-my-god infatuated. Gangsta Boo bristles with pride and queen shit. Killer Mike is as great as Killer Mike always is. It’s debauched and inspiring, and genuinely affecting. It’s the logical progression from “I’ll Call Before I Come,” which may make Gangsta Boo, officially, rap’s most vital feminist.  

“Love Again” is bigger than Run The Jewels or Gangsta Boo or a tantric orgy of insects and carnivorous flora. “Love Again” is a demand for progress as much as oral sex; uncompromising in its message and verses, tender in keynote, brutal in delivery. It’s as sincere and nuanced as an inebriated come-on, but immensely more suave. It’s brilliant. Stereotypes and gender roles and masculinity and lady-like behavior are all uncouthly thrown to the wind, where the birds and the bees are fucking. So many vermin were harmed in the making of this video, just to show us that sex is a two-way street. A lady-bug was referred to as a “little boy.” If that’s not progressive, nothing is.

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