Ground Bass: DJ Muggs
Ice Cube’s “Check Yo Self” is like one of the illest classics and you’re the architect to that hit. True Hip-Hop heads and urban music historians will know that’s it’s a sample from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – “The Message.” Were you ever surprised that Ice Cube chose that beat from you and did you ever have a hunch that it would reach the heights that it did?
DJ Muggs: I made the beat around 92 and I didn’t even really like it. When I would play beats for rappers, it would be like these are the ones I made; these are the ones I want you to use. But I would put out every beat that I had on the tape. You don’t know what a muthafucka is going to pick on a tape and they always pick the shit that you don’t like. So when that beat came on, he heard like two bars and I tried to fast forward past it and he was like nah, nah, nah go back. I said are you sure that you want to hear that… I was just messing around with that. He say’s nah, I want to hear that. I said aight man. (Laughs) If you want to dog. So it kinda came about like that and I never expected it to do nothing close to what it did. Sometimes you know, but most of the time you have no fucking clue.
I read that the original name for Cypress Hill was (DVX) Devastating Vocal Excellence but later changed the name after Sen Dog’s brother departed to pursue a solo career. Just on some conspiracy theory shit, did you at all have any influence on the changing of the groups name to Cypress Hill because of your familiarness to the neighborhood in Brooklyn?
DJ Muggs: When I had met B-Real, Sen and them, their group was called DVX and there was 5 rappers in the group. There was another DJ named Fredo and there was another DJ named Julio. But inside the group, there was different groups. There was a group with Mellow Man (Ace), with Sen Dog and Julio G who was a DJ from LA. Me and B-Real was in another group. During that time I met this kid from Brooklyn that was living in LA from the group 7A3 and they had a 12 inch single out and he liked to party. One night I was like yo… let’s call these kids from Brooklyn to come throw a party cause they got a little 12 inch out and they fuck with anybody with a rep out. So they came over to party and their DJ didn’t show up. So I DJ’ed for them and they was like yo, do you want to be our DJ. We’re about to do three shows with Ice-T and open up for him. I’m like cool and joined the group. In the mean time, 7A3 was doing those shows with Ice-T, and around the same time we did this song for the movie Colors back in 88 called “Mad Mad World” that I produced. So with 7A3, we eventually got an album deal (Geffen Records) and going through that process, man just being a young kid in the studio and watching how this shit works, you learn a lot. It was around While all of this was happening, Cypress was with me the whole time going through the experience. About 88-89, I went and got my drum machine and started doing Cyrpress Hill demos. After Mello Man left with his brother, me, Sen and B-Real came together after the 7A3 thing fell. We got signed in late 90 and the name of the street that Sen Dog lived on was called Cypress, so that’s were the name came from.
Right now, I’m a fan on the new project. I know that you had been working on this project for a moment. What I want to ask you is, why this album and why now?
DJ Muggs: Well see I DJ and when I’m not in the studio a lot, I’ll probably do 150 shows in a year and I travel the world. In my travels, I’m inspired by a lot of music and a lot of different styles. So being out on tour, man I’m like I want to start making a new album, play my own shit and do my own remixes. So I started the process and I decided to just do something different. I’m a scientist man. I’m not trying to fit in. I’m always trying to stand out. I listen to electronica. I listen to house. All these different sounds. I’m putting them together but I came with my spirit coz I want to get into all types of different musical forms. You gotta bring you. You can go and do any type of music but you gotta bring you. I didn’t want to sound like anybody else. I made sure I brought my spirit and filtered it, pitched it through me and brought it forth. I want my electronic music fans to like this album, but I also want my core hip-hop fans to be able to understand and be responsive as well. You know, I got fans that listen to everything that I make and I got fans that only want to here the first three Cypress records over and over, but listen to this album.
DJ Muggs: I didn’t call it that. I think one of the writers wrote that shit probably. It has Dubstep in it, but I just call it a bass album. A universal bass album. That’s how I like to describe it.
Do you think the way that you put the music together that it could be it’s on genre?
DJ Muggs: I call it a genre bass music because I think this is the heaviest form of bass that there is. There is a spectrum called bass music. With a lot of hip-hop heads, some know about it but a lot of people don’t dab into that world. We got a big scene in L.A. called the Low End Theory and you got cats like Flying Lotus, The Gaslamp Killa and Samiyam. J Dilla was busy in that scene. It’s a big instrumental beat scene trying to cultivate the sound out here. One of the challenges that I’ve faced is putting Roc Marci over one of these beats while keeping true to what Roc Marci is all about. He might be like, ‘I don’t listen to that shit, then again say that shit is banging. That’s one of them party shits.’ So we’re all just finding our place so that we can understand each others world and bring it all together in the same way that there was a lot of Rock n’ Roll heads that didn’t like hip-hop but they liked Run-DMC, they liked Cypress Hill, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy but they don’t like hip-hop. So that’s my mentality and the cloth that I came from.
DJ Muggs: Everything man, I change everyday. I mean I’ve probably read a thousand books. I’ve probably traveled the world 25 times, been to 44 countries, every state and met thousands of people. I’m definitely much more open minded because when I was a kid all I wanted to do was listen to Hip-Hop and was like fuck that, that shit ain’t raw, fuck that. But my mind is open right now. I’m much more smarter, much more willing to listen, understanding and to break things down. So it would be a sad day if I was still that same muthafucka, but I’m in a better place.
Bass For Your Face Is Available Now On iTunes
Follow DJ Muggs: @DJMuggs
– Seneca “The Beast” Doss / @TheBeastYo