Meow the Jewels - It's real, and for a good cause
September 28, 2015 8:22 AM   Subscribe

El-P has recruited an all-star cast of producers* to help him deliver the album in its full feline glory. But first, we needed cats... Run the Jewels don't take themselves too seriously, because Meow the Jewels (playlist, NSFW lyrics) is really happening. You can download the remix album for free, or buy it in various formats, with all proceeds of the album will go to charities that benefit victims of police violence.

* Featuring Lil Bub, Snoop Dogg, Maceo & Delonte, with remixes by Just Blaze, Zola Jesus, Geoff Barrow, Nick Hook, Prince Paul, BOOTS, Blood Diamonds, Little Shalimar, The Alchemist, Dan the Automator, and 3D of Massive Attack.

In case you missed the history of this oddity, Los Angeles Times wraps it up.

Run the Jewels previously:
- Got a style from the guts of the most irrational beast in the district (July 1, 2013) -- original Run the Jewels mixtape
- The Price Is Alright (November 29, 2013) -- Exclaim!'s Top 10 Freeleases of 2013, with an honorable mention for RtJ
- Run the Jewels Redux (October 24, 2014) -- the release of the second Run the Jewels album, which was the basis and source for Meow the Jewels (deleted post)
- "Abandon. Cultural immunity. I had a self." (December 11, 2014) -- A pair of articles, one tracing the evolution of rap's relationship with police, and a more personal look at how RUN-DMC and Parliament allowed a writer to embrace his African-American heritage
- every generation has an action hero that’s actually a villain (December 24, 2014) -- Killer Mike and El-P of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels discuss the enduring appeal of scumbag Steven Seagal
- "If I give up hope, you get another DC sniper" (February 28, 2015) -- In The Guardian, Alexis Petridis interviews Killer Mike and El-P talking about Run the Jewels, their friendship and especially the show they did in Ferguson the night the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown
- “I miss home before I even leave.” (June 24, 2015) -- EL-P of Run The Jewels Interview With Mark Kozelek
posted by filthy light thief (23 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
What I love most about this remix album (besides being an actual thing that exists) is this little brick joke:
At the beginning of the first track you hear Killer Mike and Snoop Dogg talking about the "cat album". And Snoop Dogg goes "meow meow meow meow meow...", which is countered with "Oh. We might have to sample that for the album."

Track 10 then builds its beat from this initial vocal sample I had already forgotten about again.

Which made me laugh hard.

(Plus, in my opinion, it's the most ridiculous track [SLYT] on the whole thing.)
posted by bigendian at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Run the Jewels don't take themselves too seriously

Well, not with that attitude!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2015


The best part was watching cats stream into the room on high alert about a minute in.
posted by wotsac at 9:09 AM on September 28, 2015


I love the concept and I love these guys, both for their music and their willingness to take political stands. But after listening to Meow the Jewels this weekend I'm never going to play it again. It's really bad.
posted by thecjm at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"did we make the silliest, occasionally most grating possible remix album? of course. and we did it for you, mike brown and Eric garner." - el-p
posted by General Malaise at 9:51 AM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Finally a decent feline vocalist release.

Animal videos and rainymood.com were my only joys in life... until now.

This is one of the biggest triumphs for cat justice since the Unicode Consortium voted in the Cat Crying Tears of Joy...

😹
posted by mbrock at 10:48 AM on September 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'll echo the cjm, I didn't feel this album at all and probably won't be playing it again. Maybe one more time to see if I change my mind.

My problem is that there aren't enough cats. I heard about the concept and got really excited but it mostly feels restrained. Like they could have gone with 30% cat flavour or 70% and opted for less cat. Love their first two records and look forward to the next release.
posted by Neronomius at 10:53 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


But after listening to Meow the Jewels this weekend I'm never going to play it again. It's really bad.

Says you. The basslines being throaty purrs is solid gold, and there are some real keen mixes on there. Side note - RtJ's appearance performing Angel Duster on the Late Show was impressive, not just for being a great track but also for the Late Show showcasing a song with the lyrics "The Pope is a fraud / the Church is a lie". Things have come a long way since Sinead on SNL...
posted by FatherDagon at 10:56 AM on September 28, 2015


My cat, I am sad to say, voted with his feet. To be fair, he's not a very social cat.

Years ago, I was playing a sample CD in my store and a customer was poking around while "Kitty," by The Presidents of the United States of America was playing. He selected something and brought it to the register. "You know," I said, "this is a really dumb song, but I kind of enjoy it." He looked at me very seriously and said "Yes. The meowing motif is underutilized in contemporary popular music."

THAT BARRIER HAS BEEN SHATTERED!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:23 AM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is surprisingly good.
posted by ph00dz at 11:26 AM on September 28, 2015


FatherDagon: The basslines being throaty purrs is solid gold

Hecuba uses a great rumbling purr for part of a bassline in their song Tom & Jerry, which is sadly missing in their live version on Estonian National TV
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2015


He looked at me very seriously and said "Yes. The meowing motif is underutilized in contemporary popular music."

It was Mr. Carson, wasn't it?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:25 PM on September 28, 2015


A friend of mine, who is very in to hip hop, described this as something to the effect of "the most pandering to white nerds bullshit ever".

I can't really disagree. I actually don't completely dislike it, but it's obviously more marketed to redditors than even the adult swim collabs.
posted by emptythought at 2:43 AM on September 29, 2015


This might just make it on my top 20 of 2015. I love it so so much.
posted by Theta States at 7:02 AM on September 29, 2015


Oh wow I had never seen their "Jewel Runner" t-shirts before! (at the bottom)
An amazing take on Blade Runner.
posted by Theta States at 7:10 AM on September 29, 2015


Woah, surprised to find some people aren't in to this. Meowpurrdy is PERFECT. Close Your Eyes And Meow To Fluff has that killer purrbass that has me grooving harder than the original. Paw Due Respect is aces an inventive on the sampler front. And Creown (The Alchemist Remix) is exactly the glory I had originally been expecting.

*!*MEOW THE JEWELS FOR EVER*!*
posted by Theta States at 7:18 AM on September 29, 2015


emptythought: A friend of mine, who is very in to hip hop, described this as something to the effect of "the most pandering to white nerds bullshit ever".

Hip hop contains multitudes, why cordon this off for "white nerds"? Is your friend of the mindset that hip hop has to be "real" to be honest? What of the esoteric, weird stuff? There are experimenters and goofs in all quarters. (And because I can't name a ton of names, I'm tempted to search further and do a more extensive write-up on the broad landscape of the vast genre.)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:33 AM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


See also this Excellent interview with El-P regarding MTJ.
posted by DaveP at 10:43 AM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]




DaveP: See also this Excellent interview with El-P regarding MTJ.

Oh, that is indeed excellent! Insightful and really amusing.
Once Meow the Jewels became fully funded, what were your first steps? Did you really go around and sample sounds from cats?

I actually threw in an old meow from my old cat, Mini Beast, on the low—I didn’t even credit her, because she oversaw the whole thing. But, no, I didn’t really go around sampling all these cats—it was finding libraries of cat stuff and weird shit. I only did one song myself, so I didn’t have to go too fuckin’ far. Lil BUB reached out through her owner—she doesn’t talk directly to anybody—and they sent me an entire library of sounds from her, and I sampled a bunch of random shit from just YouTube and just bullshit I could find. I had to dig deep; I had to find some libraries and some little things. It worked out okay.

What’s it like to listen to an entire library of Lil BUB sounds?

Um, amusing at first, then the slow, creeping reality of madness starts to set in. At first it seemed like a hilarious and maybe even an easy idea, but once I realized that it was actually possible to make it sound okay, that was when I realized I was fucked, because I wasn’t going to allow myself to make something that just sounded like pure shit. That was the problem with Meow the Jewels: “Oh, fuck, it’s actually possible to take these sounds and make something decent.” [Pauses.] I would never even insult the world by saying “good,” but it’s certainly the high-water mark for cat-sound records, I think.
...
That was one of the cool things about the project, that you had all these really amazing producers being forced to be really terrible producers—basically being forced back to square one. It was the great leveler: No one is particularly great at producing a record with cat sounds.
...
Do did you have many deep conversations with the other producers about cat sounds?

Oh, yeah, for sure, absolutely, because imagine how lonely it is! All of your friends are out there having fun, producing regular human records, everyone’s doing what they’re meant to be doing, and you’re at home, and you’ve already said yes publicly to a charity record. No one can really back out—and the ones that did back out had really good reasons, like they weren’t around. But for the most part, it’s a lonely thing—it’s a lonely and strange thing. Who else are you gonna talk to?
...
Do you have any tips for anyone else keeping a studio cat?

Keep them out of the studio! I’m pretty sure that if you hired a musicologist, you could find a cat meowing all over my entire fuckin’ catalogue, to be honest with you.
RIP Mini Beast.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:09 AM on October 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is there much competition when it comes to cat-sound records?

What’s out there?

I have no idea. I didn’t really research it.

Whatever’s out there, buddy, whatever there is, you better believe it, and I’m coming for the crown.
Meow.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:27 PM on October 5, 2015


my new favourite GIF
posted by Theta States at 6:15 AM on October 6, 2015


From Pitchfork:Trackstar the DJ, El-P and Killer Mike's tour DJ, has just shared the Jewel Runner tour mixtape.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


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