DJ Muggs Details Returning To Hip-Hop & Why He’s Putting Out More Music Than Ever (Audio)
DJ Muggs has enjoyed a celebrated 30-year career as a member of Cypress Hill and a tenure as a solo artist. On top of Cypress’ catalog, his Soul Assassins compilations and Vs. series are considered staples by many Hip-Hop Heads. In the 2000s, however, the Queens, New York native pivoted to focus on exploring various other genres, including Trip Hop, Dubstep, Electronica, Grime, and others.
Then, in 2017, Muggs made a triumphant return to Underground Hip-Hop. After striking up a friendship with Meyhem Lauren during a late-night Action Bronson session at Alchemist’s lab, the two went on to make the lauded Gems From The Equinox album. This became the spark that set off “The Black Goat’s” current run of collab albums with up-and-coming MCs from across the United States. This list includes Mach-Hommy, CRIMEAPPLE, and Eto. In addition to emerging voices, Muggs partnered with Roc Marciano, and added to his solo discography. He also reclaimed the helm for Cypress Hill’s 2018 album, Elephants On Acid.
The Crate 808 podcast recently spoke to the producer/DJ on the phone for a comprehensive interview in which they talk about everything from his first group The 7A3 to the difference between making music in the 1990s and now. While they cover a lot of history, the West coast vet makes sure to keep swinging the conversation back to the current resurgence of hardcore Hip-Hop.
About a third of the way through the Q&A the Crate 808 host, Kambi Thandi states that he thinks older Heads are content to just listen to 1990s Hip-Hop. Looking at his experience, Muggs refuses that idea. “I like it all, man. I’m a student, and I’m just learning,” he begins. “I’m just getting started in my life, really. Life begins now for me. I just fell back for a few years. I got a bunch of businesses, so I was just taking care of my businesses, [and] raising my kids.”
However, he felt ready to return. “So, that’s why I’ve been back with a fury these last three years now. I put out six albums this year and now it’s on. So, now I feel like all that other sh*t was just practice, warming up. I’m inspired by the likes of Salvador Dali, I’m inspired by people like [Pablo] Picasso. When these motherf*ckers got in their fifties, sixties, they was in their prime. Now, the way music is, I’m like, why is Hip-Hop the only music that once you hit a certain age they’re like, ‘Oh, you old.’ I think there’s a fan-base like you, me, people that grew up with this that are a certain age now, where it’s like, ‘Nah, you just gotta make fly sh*t.’ So, I’m on the cutting edge of everything. I keep my ear to the street. I’m on top of everything.”
A little deeper into the conversation the interviewer asks what Muggs wants to be remembered for, and without hesitation he answers, “My first album. Cypress’ first album, because that was all my life, all my ideas, all my dreams, all my hopes…everything I did, that was it. It was right there. It confirmed everything, like, ‘you’re the sh*t, mother f*cker.’ and that was everything right there.” He then adds that he would like to be remembered for what he’s doing currently as well, “Working with Meyhem, working with f*cking Roc Marciano, working with CRIME’, working with Mach-Hommy, working with all these kids. This is like…we’re in the future right now. To be here 30 years later and be at the top of my game with the top underground Hip-Hop record label in the world right now…this is it, man. This is what hard work and focus, and dedication, and sticking true to what the f*ck you do, [get you], man.”
While Muggs’ claim of #1 underground label might be argued, there is no denying Soul Assassins Records has been consistently selling out its limited runs of vinyl, CD, and cassette since the Queens-born producer’s return to hardcore Hip-Hop in 2017. That honored a tradition that carries back into the ’90s.
When asked what his ‘Top 5 MCs of Today’ are, he responds, “Today. Right now: Roc Marciano, Conway [The Machine], I’m f*cking with Westside Gunn, I’m f*cking with Meyhem…I like this kid Estee Nack, he’s out of Massachusetts.” When the host eagerly agrees that Griselda are “killing it right now,” Muggs chips in his two cents about their success, “They know how to hustle and they know how to work. There [are] a lot of people putting out quality music, but they don’t know how to hustle it the right way, and they don’t know how to work.”
#BonusBeat: DJ Muggs & Meyhem Lauren’s recent “Blue Chinese” music video: