The Rickety Old Shack

Run The Jewels - Meow The Jewels

At this point, the genesis of this most peculiar remix project has been documented extensively. In the span of approximately a year, we've gone from throwaway joke to a physical product; I'm still stunned that I'm writing about a smash hit rap album being remixed using only cat sounds. Once the laughter died down, I'm sure the prospect of executing a project like this was incredibly daunting — as a prospective listener, I was apprehensive after realising "this is actually going to happen."

I'm all for a good joke, but the notion of crafting listenable remixes — never mind good ones — out of Run The Jewels songs and cat noises requires a lot of talent, and dedication to a borderline insane premise. The decision to spread out the work was wise, and likely the only way this record would have A) been finished, and B) not been a complete train-wreck resulting in extreme mental trauma suffered by the producer(s).

Admittedly, my expectations for this release were tempered with consideration for the self-imposed constraints, and the fact this also turned into a charity fund-raising effort. Qualification aside, though, I'm actually very impressed with what I hear on Meow The Jewels. This is not Jingle Cats, although it's not any less twisted — just different.

After going through the whole record a few times, I feel Just Blaze turned in the best track with "Oh My Darling Don't Meow," which transcends the novelty concept of the record and manages to be a legitimately good song. BOOTS remixed "Early," one of the group's best singles — which he also had a hand in producing — and does some absurd things with an array of cat samples. This is a gag that can wear thin really quickly, but the variety of mixing and editing techniques employed is staggering and effective. I don't even like cats and I managed to listen to Meow The Jewels in its entirety multiple times.

Other highlights of the record include Prince Paul's "Lie, Cheat, Meow," Zola Jesus' "Pawfluffer Night," and Dan The Automator's "Angelsnuggler." In all fairness, though, each mix is worth giving a chance; as an amateur, hack musician, I am extremely impressed with the production value shown on every contribution here — no one phoned it in. Every guest producer is immensely talented and I highly recommend giving their other work a chance, even if this project doesn't appeal to you.

I am as big of fan of Run The Jewels 2 as one could possibly be, so the fact this record contains the two most important components of the group's music — Killer Mike and El-P's verses — this ambitious concept does start off on the best foot possible. The hallmark of RTJ is ridiculous, over-the-top entertainment mixed with some serious moments of self-reflection and social commentary. This record works precisely because of RTJ's refusal to take themselves too seriously, yet demonstrating a lot of thought in crafting the narrative of their songs. Even set to the sounds of meows and rumbling cat purrs, El-P and Killer Mike's lyrics still work and the material straddles that fine line between stupid fun and self-indulgence.

Coming with a reasonable price-tag of zero dollars, Meow The Jewels is worth a look if for no other reason than the novelty factor. If so inclined, one can look into the charitable efforts being funded by sales of the record. As I said, it's a noble effort, coupled with an absurd concept — actualised through the power of the Internet. I don't think any other group could have done this without falling flat or coming off as disingenuous or trite.

Overall, the material is respectable, but the group's regular output is some of my favourite music in the last decade — even a traditional remix album would have an almost impossible task of competing against the original. So, grading this record on a curve, I give it full marks; if everyone involved changed their minds and scrapped the project half-way through; or if this turned out to be an utter disaster, I would not have been shocked or let down. Meow The Jewels was a lofty goal and merely completing the task is commendable; the fact any of these mixes are listenable makes this a hit in my books.

Easily the best record made solely with cat sounds of 2015, no question.

Summary

A really fun concept, but absolutely not the sort of thing I will be coming back to on a regular basis. It's an amusing piece I will certainly keep for posterity. Great project, and the charity aspect makes it a lot easier to part with money for such an absurd novelty. I look forward to explaining to people in the future why I own this thing, and making them listen to it. If nothing else, it's a good reminder to listen to Run The Jewels — which is something I encourage you to do anyway.

Album Information

Release date: September 28th, 2015
Record label: Mass Appeal Records

Killer Mike - vocals
El-P - production, vocals

Track Listing

  1. Meowpurrdy (feat. Lil Bub, Snoop Dogg, Delonte — El-P remix)
  2. Oh My Darling Don't Meow (Just Blaze remix)
  3. Pawfluffer Night (Zola Jesus remix)
  4. Close Your Eyes And Meow To Fluff (Geoff Barrow remix)
  5. All Meow Life (Nick Hook remix)
  6. Lie, Cheat, Meow (Prince Paul remix)
  7. Meowrly (BOOTS remix)
  8. Paw Due Respect (Blood Diamonds remix)
  9. Snug Again (Little Shalimar remix)
  10. Creown (The Alchemist remix)
  11. Angelsnuggler (Dan The Automator remix)
  12. Creown (3D of Massive Attack remix)

—by Derek

Published: October 7, 2015