Meow the Jewels is literally meme rap. That being said, the first remix album produced by Killer Mike/El-P rap duo Run the Jewels should not be immediately dismissed, and in fact should be celebrated. Originally announced via Kickstarter to raise money for charity, the album contains almost no noises, aside from those made by cats, which El-P spent months recording. The fact that this project works so incredibly well is really, as Anthony Fantano claimed, “a testament to technology and talent.” The list of guest remixers itself should be enough to excite any rap fan – Just Blaze, Prince Paul, The Alchemist, Dan the Automator, Zola Jesus, among others – and they all pull through, with stripped down beats composed only of cat noises and drums.
Understandably, it would be difficult to create the same overbearingly banging beats that were featured on RTJ2 with only cat noises, so the beats are, for the most part, comparably minimalist. This actually tends to work to the album’s benefit, where the focus becomes even more on Mike and El-P’s fantastically intricate flows. Whereas the excessive bass in the original album occasionally compromised the overall feel of songs when played on higher end speakers, MTJ can occasionally sound better than the original. Just Blaze’s “Oh My Darling Don’t Meow” remix somehow manages to be better than the majority of songs from RTJ2. “Creown” (remixed by The Alchemist) is a hilariously un-RTJ track, and features a sample of Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.
However, the album is still, for all intents and purposes, not a serious one, and therein lies its flaws. I can’t imagine wanting to revisit this project much, if ever. So while we should all be praising El-P for his production genius in a project which cements him as one of hip-hop’s greatest producers, if you aren’t already deep into his work, this project probably won’t interest you beyond the sheer novelty of it.