Gotta start the year off with a bang over here at LIVE HIGH FIVE! How about DJ MUGGS from Cypress Hill? Yep.. That’ll do!
Legendary DJ and producer DJ MUGGS needs no introduction, but I’m going to give him one anyway. As the beat maker and man in control of the 1’s and 2’s for Cypress Hill, DJ MUGGS has rocked crowds and invented some of Hip Hop’s most famous and recognizable beats. And the creative juice still flows!
With the explosion of EDM into the mainstream, DJ MUGGS has put together an album of ridiculous Hip Hop/Dubstep/DNB anthems for the next generation of music lovers. Titled Bass For Your Face, the record will be dropping on January 15th via Ultra Records, and it’s definitely one to set 2013 off on the right foot.
I got in touch with DJ MUGGS over the phone during a lunch break to talk about the record, his selection of special guests, the relationship with Ultra Records, and what he thinks about the current EDM scene.
G- What’s going on, everybody? This is Greg Allis once again with Live High Five, and we are on the phone with a legend… DJ MUGGS from Cypress Hill!
M- What’s up, brother?
G- Not much, man. How are you doing?
M- Really good, man, thank you very much! Shout out to everybody… What’s up, yo?
G- Sounds good! Well now, let’s check it out. I just got a download the other day. First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. You’ve got a new album coming out. Bass for Your Face. It’s dropping on Ultra Records and in January, and let’s get right to it. Tell me about your motivation for blending EDM and Hip Hop this time around?
M- You know, just experimenting with sounds, you know. Experimenting with styles and sounds, new challenges, new dimensions. You know… Boldly going where no man has gone before shit. My travels take me to far places, and touch all 4 fucking spectrums of the globe, and you know. I’m just a fan of music in general, and every few years, I get bored.
So, to go and do an experimental project… I’ve done projects before with Tricky. I did a record called “Dust” before, and, you know, I got to the point again where I was like ‘I’m bored right now… Let’s do something different.’ And a lot of the music that I play when I’m out doing shows around the world is a lot of instrumental, eclectic types of music. So, I was like ‘Let me do a record like this,’ with a Hip Hop spirit, but use sounds I’ve never used before, use production techniques that I’ve never used before, and just go in there and keep learning… Be a student of music, you know what I mean?
G- For sure. Seriously. It was interesting, especially since Dubstep and EDM are getting so big, and having somebody with your reputation as a producer with hip hop. Dubstep especially, and Hip Hop, they seem like very, very close cousins, and your album really brings a lot of that out.
And another thing that really gets me is you have a shit load of special guests on this thing! You’ve got Freddie Gibbs, Danny Brown, Chuck D., Dizzee Rascal, and many more. What was it like working everyone, and how did you select these artists to contribute?
M- Well, working with all of them was great because I’m fans of these guys, first of all, you know. So, what I did was want to take it a little more Hip Hop and come with a Hip Hop spirit on the record. Working with guys that were really underground and really core, I bring ‘em to this other world to make it work. Just throw them on stuff where it doesn’t work. Like the Roc Marci song… I made that song so when a Roc Marci fan hears that song that doesn’t like dubstep, he’s gonna go ‘I don’t like dubstep, but that shit is bangin’!’ You know, and it’s the same shit that Cypress Hill did. There were a lot of kids at the time that were like ‘I don’t like Hip Hop, but I like Cypress Hill. I don’t like Hip Hop, but I like Public Enemy.’
And so, I’m trying to just let people know that this is all music… Why do you gotta segregate it? Can we all just use different sounds and can we all just put everything together? Why does it gotta be weird if a hip hop guy wants to make EDM or an EDM guy wants to make some hip hop? It don’t matter… It’s all vibrations. It’s all in the air. I’m gonna use everything to keep inspired, man.
G- I dig it, and it’s odd that you bring up Roc Marci. The track is called “Absolum” It’s got a sick lurch to it, and it’s my personal favorite track off the album thus far. I just got it yesterday, but I’ve listened three times. Do you have a personal favorite song on the record that you’re most proud of at this point?
M- You go in with the vision of a song and sometimes the song takes turns and twists and it comes out different than you expected for better or for worse. You don’t know… A song takes on its own life.
I love the Roc Marci song. I could listen to that all day over and over and over and over. It’s just my kind of shit, you know what I mean?
G- Dig it.
M- But making the songs, I listened to each and every song while I was making it, and I’m over the shit. Fuck it I don’t want to hear it. I’ve heard every single song 500 times. I hope I never hear it again. (laughing)
G- (laughing) Well, you know, once we get you out here on tour out on the east coast, I know it’s a lot warmer out there where you’re at, but hopefully we’ll get to hear a little bit more and you’ll knock it out. I know it’ll be great!
Now, this album is dropping on Ultra, and that’s pretty rad, man… It’s a good label. How did this partnership come about, and how is it working with the label right now?
M- My manager actually. He was talking about labels to do this record with, cuz I was like ‘I’m gonna do the record, but I don’t want to finish the record and… Where are we gonna put it out?’ I didn’t want to have to go through that. So he said ‘What do you think of Ultra?’ I looked ‘em up and I was like ‘Yea yea I’m very familiar with Patrick.’ What made me want to go there is Patrick, the owner of the label, was DJ Premier’s manager for 15-20 years.
M- So, him knowing hip hop, and talking to him. I walked into his office, and they’re a real dance driven label. Like super dance… There’s really no dubstep acts on that. There’s no glitch acts. It’s pretty hardcore dance music. So walking in, I was like ‘I’m thinking a more Hip Hop spirited record,’ and he was like ‘Do what you do. Make it Hip Hop,’ and I was like ‘Ok.’ I could work with him. He gets it, as opposed to somebody whose only been into EDM their whole lives. So, I was like this is will be a good fit moving forward.
G- Right on. So, since your connected on both sides, in hip hop and the EDM scene, how about some of the current artists that you might be digging? Is there anybody that you think we should know about at this time in addition to Bass For Your Face?
M- Right now, I’m listening to Mayhem Lauren, his mixtape. I’m listening to the Action Bronson “Rare Chandeliers’ mixtape. I’m listening to the Roc Marci album. On the EDM side, what the fuck is in my car right now? I got so much shit in my car, I listen to a lot of stuff, but I’ve been playing out a lot. So a lot of stuff is just me grabbing different things and making my own mixes of different things, you know what I mean?
I like a producer named 6 Block out of Los Angeles, I like Flying Lotus, I like everything that Braintree is doing. And, I also, out of L.A., like the Low End Theory, I like Radiohead. I’m a really big Radiohead fan. I’m a really big Led Zeppelin fan. So right now, it’s probably like Led Zeppelin, White Stripes, Radiohead, Justice, Roc Marci, Action Bronson, you know. I’m very eclectic in my tastes.
G- I guess so, man. Right on with the choices there! Now, obviously this is something a little bit new, and you’ve got a lot of fans out there that are expecting this album. We all want to know when you’re going to possibly be taking this show on the road. So when you do, what should we expect of the performances coming up in 2013? Are you going to touring this and bringing anybody on the road?
M- Yea. You know, when I get booked, I’ll go do 30 shows in Europe, and I don’t know where I’m going to end up. I might end up at a club and it’s just a straight underground Hip Hop club and the next night, I’m playing with Skrillex and Nero, and it’s different. So, with my tastes, I pretty much gauge the crowd and pretty much play a lot of different things. You’re gonna hear some rock. You’re gonna hear some Hip Hop.
You know, what I’m bring to my EDM parties… At a dubstep show in Sacramento, the 5 dj’s before me all played an hour of straight dubstep at the same 140 tempo. Nothing veered off of that.
M- Here I come on playing The Beatles, you know what I mean?
M- I’m playing dubstep with remixes of dubstep where they put fucking, going into a couple of Hip Hop songs that all the fans love, going into a couple of Rock songs that all the fans love, back into electronic music, to let ‘em know, man. People are open to music, … Don’t be one dimensional in the way you play music to these fans. Be multi-dimensional, and touch all of their emotions because they all like different shit, too.
When I was growing up, I liked rock and Hip Hop, and that was odd to Hip Hop kids cuz they didn’t know what rock was. And a lot of rock kids was like ‘You’re into that Rap shit, hahaha” Now, with the internet, these kids are into electronic shit, they’re into Rock, they’re into dance, they’re into commercial Hip Hop, and underground Hip Hop. Trap music, with that getting into the EDM scene, it’s kinda like you’ve got this gangsta southern shit in the EDM. So, I try to educate them through my set to let them know like, you can’t be one-dimensional.
G- Right on. Well, that’s a testament to a master selector right there! Keep your crowd engaged, read them, and give them what they want, and they’ll give it right back to you.
M- Yea, and there’s always the one motherfucker going ‘You’re play Hip Hop! Fuck You!’ It’s always something. It’s like ‘Fuck… I make this for me. I made this record for me. This is what I wanted to do.
M- I learned a bunch of new production techniques, so now I’m back in the Hip Hop realm, doing experimental music again. I’ve got all those production techniques that I sat and took months to learn. Now, if I look for one sample for Hip Hop, I have about 15 different things I can do to the sound that I didn’t know how to do before from learning these production techniques through this process of making a Hip Hop/Electronica record, you know what I mean?
G- Absolutely. Technology has busted the scene wide open, and there are infinite possibilities right now. I’m glad that you’re channeling as many as you can to make a song.
The album is dope, it’s dropping on Ultra Records on January 15th, and I just have one last question for you.
G- You’re a legend in this hip hop game, this album is great, and you’ve been doing this for a long time on the road, in the studio, whatever. The music dream is never going to die, and there are a lot of kids out there that want to be you, man. What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want get into Hip Hop and want to get into EDM to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician like yourself?
M- Practice practice practice. Learn learn learn. Never think you know everything. Always be a student. Learn from somebody, throw it away, and then bring your own style to the game, and bring your own sound, and keep the game alive! Keep inspiring. My job now is to inspire. If I can touch one kid like Public Enemy touched me, and I was able to spread this across the world and share it and inspire people. My job now is to inspire, and that what I want these kids to do. It’s about the next generation. To move forward. Don’t be stuck doing one style, one thing thinking I have to do everything at 140. Fuck that! There ain’t no rules to this shit. Be original. Be creative, you know what I mean?
G- Definitely. Look, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. I can’t wait until the album drops. We’re expecting good things, and can’t wait to have you here in NY.
M- Thanks, brother! I appreciate your time and energy. Have a good day!
G- You, too!