In this interview DJ Muggstalks about their latest album and more.
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Tell me about this new album called “Base for Your Face,” what’s it all about? I know this is a new direction for you musically speaking. DJ Muggs: This record is a lot of bass man. It’s a bass music record. Everything is about bass you know. It’s a hip-hop inspired record. It’s as much bass as you can handle or can’t handle.
WHO?MAG: What were the inspirations to make this album? DJ Muggs: You know I live in the bass capital of the world man. You put four twelve inch woofers in the back seat of your car you didn’t care about highs or midis or anything you just wanted bass. And from Dj’ing all around the world and traveling all over the world, I just love playing bass music man and I think right now it’s just something I feel like doing. So it pretty much stems from Dj’ing a lot.
WHO?MAG: How did you get the deal with Ultra Records? DJ Muggs: I worked on a bunch of songs here for about a year and I said ok I wanna put it out. So I started researching where would be the best places to put it out and who would understand DJ Muggs past, present and future, what he’s trying to accomplish…..who gets it. So after meeting with Ultra a few times, I realized this is where I need to be. This is where I should put the record out for maximum exposure.
WHO?MAG: How was the production process on the album? DJ Muggs: I would sit down and make some drum tracks, get my drums real slammin, and then start finding some sounds, sequencing the song and bringing in some bass lines. A few of the songs I had some friends working on with me you know just having a good time collaborating in the studio……some friends playing synths, some friends playing piano, guitar, you know, different things like that.
WHO?MAG: As far as emcees, who’s on the album? DJ Muggs: Right now on the album is Rock Marcy. He’s an emcee from New York, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Rahzel, and Bamboo from L.A.
WHO?MAG: How was it working with Chuck D in the studio? DJ Muggs: I wasn’t in the studio with Chuck. I wish I was. Our schedules were so hectic man. Just the fact that I got to get it done cuz you know that brother tours. H’s a touring machine with Public Enemy. So just the fact we could get that done and get that scheduled to get it done was a blessing.
WHO?MAG: How about Dizzee Rascal from the UK? DJ Muggs: I got hooked up with Dizzee through Bun B. Me and Bun B was gonna get in the lab and Dizzee and Bun are good friends and Dizzee was in L.A. So Dizzee was like yo I wanna get in the studio and Bun was like yo Dizzee is in L.A. and wants to get in the studio and work on some music. So I came in and we had did about 4 songs and I start to play what I’m working on and he hears the track and he’s like yo let me get on that one. I’m like are you sure dawg this is my single and it’s coming out in about a month. He’s like na na na I wanna get on that one right there. So I’m like ok hell yeah. So he went and wrote some rhymes and jumped on the track.
WHO?MAG: I wanted to ask you man what are your thoughts on dubstep music? DJ Muggs: I love dubstep music. You know the stuff I like. I don’t like everything of everything but the good sh*t’s amazing man. You know I love the bass. I love the fans. When you go to a show the fans come out and they rock. They lose their minds. I love dub music so hearing dub with these aggressive bass lines it brings out the rock and roll energy sometimes and it brings out the dub reggae energy which is two of my favorite music’s. So just being a producer and always searching for the next thing to conquer and the next sounds to incorporate into your music you know cuz this sh*t get redundant especially after 25 years. You always want new challenges and new styles to blend in with your sh*t. I first started hearing Dubb step about 6 years ago. I started dj’ing it about 3 or 4 years ago and I started producing it about 2 years ago. So you know the stuff that I like I love. I don’t love it all but the stuff I like I love the music.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel dubstep is a continuation of Miami Bass music? DJ Muggs: I think electronic music is electronic music. I think dubstep is slower drum and base you know, halftime drum and base is really what it is. When it has 808’s in it and its up-tempo, it could be similar to Miami Bass music. It’s all electronic music. It’s all just babies of each other you know what I’m sayin.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel this album of yours “Bass in Your Face,” is kind of a continuation of all those left field projects like for instance “Dust” or “Juxtapose” when you worked with Tricky? DJ Muggs: It’s definitely different. If you sit down and listen to my first record like the first “Soul Assassin” record I did and then you hear “Dust” which is a totally different. I was in a totally different mind space there again experimenting with sounds. Then I was in another mind space with Tricky. So this is definitely a whole other headspace and the inspiration is coming from a different place for this record. This record is coming from the energy of performing live. So when you get this record, this record brings that energy. You know when you go to a show and you want to get amped up and pumped up, that’s what this record is.
WHO?MAG: Speaking of the “Juxtapose” album, how did you hook up with Tricky to work on that project? DJ Muggs: I met Tricky in New York and we went in and recorded a few songs man and he was cool. So then he was like we should do a project. He hooked it up and we banged the project out quick in a few weeks. Then we went to Miami for a few weeks, finished it up and then it came out. There was no big thinking about it.
WHO?MAG: What equipment are you using right now as far as production’s concerned? DJ Muggs: Right now I’m using a lot of native instrument stuff. I’m using Logic. I’m still using records and MPC’s, but mostly native instruments man.
WHO?MAG: Which is your favorite Cypress Hill album and why? DJ Muggs: Man, I like every record I did with Cypress Hill, but I would have to say the first one that came out. The first record changed my life. It opened up a lot of opportunities for me and opened up the world for me to go travel. It made it possible for me to do a second and third record. So that first record was just a special time, doing everything for the first time in your life.
WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Goodie Mob for the first “Soul Assassins” and the second? DJ Muggs: Awww man, I was a fan of Goodie Mob. So I made sure that I reached out and got with them. I flew them out to L.A. and got in the studio with them and recorded the track. Then, I built a friendship with them and I would go out to Atlanta every now and then I recorded some things with them again. We did something for the movie “Bamboozled.” Then we did another song for the second “Soul Assassin” record. You know certain people you click with and you not only work with them, but you build friendships with them.
WHO?MAG: When is there gonna be a next “Soul Assassins” Volume 3? DJ Muggs: I’m not sure about that man. I think I might be done with the “Soul Assassins” records. When I planned on doing that a while ago I think the third “Soul Assassin” record became the Muggs vs Gza record. Then I decided well let me go do some versus records with these emcees and I might even be done with that too, I don’t know. If there’s an emcee that comes across my studio and we vibe and we can bang a record out in a couple of weeks you know, I’ll go on and do it. Right now though, I’m just trying to focus on me as an artist and putting out this “Bass For Your Face” and the two follow ups. Just doin what I’m doin right now.
WHO?MAG: What are your thoughts when you hear “Jump Around” and “Insane in the Membrane” the longevity? DJ Muggs: You know it’s a blessing brother. I got to make songs that I like, that were me and for people to judge them as classics and they’re still here. It’s a really good feeling. It’s a really good feeling to know that you did something that touched the world and that’s still blessing the world. There’s songs that I grew up with my whole life like Michael Jackson songs or “Twist and Shout,” or the Isley Brothers “Shout” all that kind of sh*t man. It’s just one of those records; they became one of those records. And the good thing is it doesn’t fit with contemporary ratings. There are no singers on it. There’s no radio sounds on those records. Those are just hard hip-hop songs and they got played on the radio and they reached the masses. It’s a great thing.
WHO?MAG: How does it feel to still be in the music game after 23 years doing what you love? DJ Muggs: Do you know what feels good man? Just to be inspired period. Whether it’s music or anything. I’m still blessed to wake up and feel inspired and want to create and want new challenges. See I’m curious dawg. The one that’s good about curiosity is you constantly want to know things and you constantly wanna learn and progress. So to have that in life with my children, with my family and with whatever in life it’s a blessing to have that man.
WHO?MAG: What did you learn from Joe the Butcher when you were working with him on 7A3? DJ Muggs: Joe the Butcher was like a father figure to me man. I went over there with 7A3 and I had never made a record before. I mean I had done one single before, that was my first production with Mellow Man. So then I got to sit and watch Joe produce this whole album. I had a lot of ideas, but I wasn’t a producer yet so watching that record be made it gave me the understanding of how records are made, what it takes to make a record and how to complete an album. It was like someone was paying me to go to Harvard music school and learn. So when I sat there and watched this album being made and had my input, after that I went back and formed Cypress Hill.
WHO?MAG: Who were some of your influences as a DJ? DJ Muggs: Some of my early influences were Tony G, Joe Cooley, Philly DJ’s like Cash Money, New York DJ’s, Clark Kent, and then later on I had stopped DJ’ing for like 12/13 years. When I started DJ’ing again, my influence became Mix Master Mike, Mr. Chalk, you know I like Crave, A Track, Gas Lamp, Killer, I like so many good DJ’s. When I look at all these guys and they are all different, I try to create myself as a DJ with a little piece of all these people. You know, how you look, how you stand, how you engage with the crowd. It’s very important man. It’s more than just getting up there and playing records anymore.
WHO?MAG: What are your first memories of Hip Hop? DJ Muggs: Listening to “Rapper’s Delight” on the radio and waiting for that sh*t to come on the radio all the time and trying to memorize the song. That was the sh*t to do when you were a kid. Who could memorize the whole “Rapper’s Delight?”
WHO?MAG: Being a Miami native, what are your memories and thoughts of Two Live Crew? DJ Muggs: Man, Uncle Luke is the sh*t. In L.A., we played those records every night and every party they rocked. They inspired the whole bass uptempo style. They brought a lot of the x-rated stuff to the game. The fact that they stood up in Congress for free speech was a big thing in its time. They wanted to close our whole culture down. Those records stand the test of time. Those records are still banging, they’re still inspiring and still relevant today in music.
WHO?MAG: How about Mantronix? DJ Muggs: Oh man, he was another one. He was was too far ahead of his time and I don’t think people even knew what he was doing. He was doing sh*t on drum machines they still can’t even do on computers now. I wasn’t in to his big dance records because I know he was doing all those Joyce Sims records, but like the records he did with Just-Ice and the Matronix hip-hop records were ridiculous dude. That’s electronic music right there you know. Early electronic music is Kraftwork, Matronix, all that sh*t is ridiculous.
WHO?MAG: How about Run DMC? DJ Muggs: Those are the king’s man. They are one of the reasons I’m even doing what I’m doing is Run DMC. Run DMC to harness that rock and roll energy and bring it through hip-hop. The bands that did that are bands that are still here. Bands like Run DMC , Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, and the Beastie Boys that harnessed that energy. Run DMC changed my life dawg. I’m DJ’ing because of Jam Master Jay, you know. It’s just the way they did their music and their style they were the first real gangstas in Hip Hop and they didn’t curse a lot on their records. They could do a whole concert and not curse and be gangsta as f*ck.
WHO?MAG: And EPMD? DJ Muggs: That’s another one of my favorite groups in the world. EMPD, that was a group. I don’t hear emcees rhyming like that too much anymore you know going back and forth, line for line, and changing words. They had the funk and they were the illest. EPMD, Public Enemy, Matronix, and Run DMC are like my all time favorites.
WHO?MAG: What’s next for you Muggs? DJ Muggs: Right now it’s “Bass For Your Face.” You know just touring. I’m doing the Ultra Festival that’s coming up in Miami. I’m doing that next. I’m about to hit up Switzerland and Sweden next week and a bunch shows, and more records and family. Music is only like twenty percent of my life dawg. Everything else is the family and the family business. The music’s is my creative outlet.
WHO?MAG: What would be your advice for artists trying to make it in the game today? DJ Muggs: Work. Work. Work. Work. Work. Don’t be going to the parties. Don’t be chasin hoes. Make your music. Make your music. Make your music. You gotta make the right decisions. You gotta be original. You gotta be good. You gotta make a thousand beats before your good. You know what I mean. But you know what’s f*cked up? The best people don’t make it man. You gotta get the right team too man. You gotta have the right people as your voice out there speaking for you. You gotta have the right connections. You gotta have some connections to get out there and do it for you. You can go ahead and do the basics too. Set up your Facebook. Set up your Myspace. Set up your website. Start your own little community. Start talking to people. Build a little foundation for yourself. Release your songs. But eventually that’s not gonna be enough. Your gonna need a good team. Good representation. So that’s the part where our decision-making comes in. That’s the stuff where you might make the wrong decisions and it could f*ck you for your whole life. It doesn’t matter how good you are sometimes. Some of the best are still sitting in their basement making beats. Just stay focused and work hard. That’s all you can do. There’s nothing else you can do. What’s gonna happen is gonna happen.
WHO?MAG: Do you have a website or Facebook page you know for the fans. DJ Muggs: Yea you can go to DJ Muggs both on Facebook and the dot com. That’s where we are at.