By Jacqueleen Eng ’19
Crowd funding has done wondrous things. $5,408,916 was raised to bring back Reading Rainbow, over $2 million in 24 hours was funded to create a Veronica Mars movie, $55,000 was raised for a man to make a damn good potato salad, and now we have a rap album featuring cat sounds.
Run the Jewels, the project of duo El-P and Killer Mike, is a big name in hip-hop. Forming in 2013, they released the self-titled debut Run the Jewels the same year as a free download and returned with Run the Jewels 2 in 2014. Not long after the release of the follow-up album, a user on the crowd funding site Kickstarter created a campaign to fund the making of an album that would feature remixes of Run the Jewels 2 using cat sounds. The campaign aimed to raise $40,000 for the endeavor, but ended up raising over $60,000. Most people were shocked that the album would actually be happening, and many didn’t expect anything impressive out of it. It wasn’t until videos of El-P auditioning cats surfaced, as well as a video confirming that the duo was working on the album, that dreams slowly turned into reality. The video also revealed collaborators on the project, which caused people to change their minds about the possible cat-astrophe. Many notable producers such as Just Blaze, Dan the Automator, The Alchemist, Zola Jesus and Skywlkr all took part in remixing for the album.
The album was received quite well and exceeded expectations. The all-star team of producers working on the remixes made this album a serious project. Yes, there are plenty of cat sounds, but the quality of the production is what makes it a success. “Paw Due Respect” (Blood Diamonds Remix) could pass as solid, normal remix, and Snoop Dogg meowing on the intro is maybe the greatest thing I’ve ever heard. Geoff Barrow from Portishead remixed “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” into the stripped-down, darker track “Close Your Eyes and Meow to Fluff” that works amongst cat bells and demonic cat noises. I am especially a fan of the sleeping cat noises heard at the beginning of “Meowrly (feat. Boots) [Boots Remix]. The cat sounds not only work well within the track, but they are also easy to ignore and forget about. After listening to the album a few times, the quality of the remixes without the cat sounds became more and more apparent. I think Run the Jewels knew that in order to make this a worthwhile album, the production needed to be great. They easily could have turned this into more of a joke, but that would not have been in true RTJ style. Meow the Jewels is a fun, impressive album that follows the duo’s inspiring work ethic. With Meow the Jewels to hold us over, the wait for Run the Jewels 3 seems a bit more bearable.