DJ Muggs isn’t afraid to stretch out
DJ Muggs is a legend. Over twenty years in the game, and he’s still hungry as ever, experimenting, creating new sounds, pushing musical boundaries while still giving us the raw straight-up hip-hop that he’s known for. I had the opportunity to speak with Muggs about his recent projects as well as his series of Muggs vs… albums, future projects and a lot of other shit too.
I wanted to start off by asking about one of the recent projects you’ve put out, the Cross My Heart Hope To Die EP. How did that collaboration come about? You seem to have your hand in so many different projects.
Yeah that came about around two years ago, I was going through some music and I found some tracks I had done. I found some leftovers tracks from the DUST album and my boy Andrew Kline from Strife, the guitar player was here and we were talking and he knew this singer. And I was like, hey, man, you know what would be dope, get this singer chick you know on this here, lay the vocals down for me and work on it and let’s do a project together. So you know, if you do projects with people it isn’t so much of just your time so then I can still do my other things you know what I’m saying? It takes a lot of the pressure off, man, and he works hard like me. So we recorded some demos, we probably did about sixteen songs. So the songs were done then we stopped, I went on tour, he went on tour. Then we came back and were like, let’s finish the EP.
So are you planning on putting out more releases under the Cross My Heart Hope To Die banner?
Well what we did, we started the group and our boy Sean Bonner is in the group and Sean handles a lot of the multi media stuff you know, he started off the Hackerspace club in LA. So he brings this whole other element to the project where being a member, he isn’t really a physical music maker; he brings the whole visual side and the technology side to the group. We got a lot of street art. We got these boxes, they’re all around the world right now, it’s like audio street art and you just go and plug into it and it’ll play you our songs. We started that about a year ago. We all came together to create a project that was more of an interesting way of finding music, so people are going to find this music through the technology side or through the art side because of all the other layers of it and what we’re trying to do with it. The live shows that we’re working on is crazy, it’s fun for all of us, man.
I was going to ask about the singer: her vocals are crazy! Especially on that Wild Side track.
Yeah, her name is Brevi, she’s out here in L.A. She works with a lot of hip-hop artists and stuff, she’s worked with 50 Cent, damn a lot of people, man, she’s probably on like ten different records that you know. When she works with me, she’s more umm… It brings out another part of her personality. She’s really good at writing from that space, man. Like when I first heard what she wrote to my shit I was like unnnhhhh that shit is bangin’ and she sounds haunting. She’s got her own sound, even lyrically. But I got a lot of songs, like blues shit, really bluesy shit, like ten to twelve more songs, we’re recording new stuff now and we’re gonna put another EP out in like four months so I’m just gonna take my time and let it unfold.
You have also put out two electronic/dub step EPs recently as well as the Bass for Your Face album. Is that still where you’re at musically right now?
Yeah, well I’m doing a lot of projects, man, I’m probably doing like five things but part of me, the Bass For Your Face is definitely where I’m at right now. I have about twenty beats, right as we’re talking right now I’m putting all the beats together and I’m going to listen to them over the weekend and then make the next EP, another five songs out of those. So yeah, definitely do that. I made that record because I DJ all over the world and I like playing music and in the electronic scene I just wanted to be able to play more of my own music. You know, I was doing remixes for other people and stuff, the first one I took a real hip-hop approach and made stuff I could play more at hip-hop parties. The stuff I’m working on now is a little different, it’s fun. But on the flip side I’m working with Meyhem Lauren on a project you know, Action Bronson is on a few joints we got a few people on some joints so we got that over here in the cut. When I make a beat that sounds like something else I throw it in a folder, then I start making these sub-folders which eventually become other projects because they really don’t fit with other shit.
I wanted to ask a few questions about your previous Muggs vs… albums. They are discussed quite a lot on forums and blogs but not a lot is known about how these collaborations came about… I’m assuming the Grandmasters album with GZA/Genius came about through the tracks you did together on the two Soul Assassins albums?
Yeah, yeah, working on the two Soul Assassins records together and doing some stuff on one of his other albums [“Luminal” from Legend of the Liquid Sword] and just building a friendship over the years. Everybody always told us y’all should work together y’all should work together. So I was like, shall I make another Soul Assassins record? But the climate started changing in the business. When we did the first Soul Assassins records it was before the explosion of the mixtape game. Once mixtapes started happening, pretty soon it was a lot easier to make a mixtape than it was to make a compilation album because everybody wanted to get paid on an album. But on a mixtape people will just do it for you, and you can use any sample and just put it out. So that became a lot easier and then the problem I had was touring, I couldn’t tour the Soul Assassins record. So I said you know what, instead of making a third Soul Assassins record, you know what would be better, I should just start doing it with one artist. So it’ll be like when you used to see Batman vs. Superman, and you would always wonder who won. You know like when we were kids and we’d be like what would happen if a tiger fought a lion and shit like that. So that’s where it came from Muggs vs. GZA, and you know, coming together, GZA is big into chess, what’s the highest level you can reach as a chess master? I think we’ve achieved it where we’re from, so that’s a Grandmaster, so that’s where the title came from. I put the chess theme because that’s GZA’s personality so when I work with these cats I try to put their personality across so whether it be Cypress with weed or House of Pain with the Irish stuff and GZA with the chess, whatever their personality calls for I try to produce their album like that.
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