“I still search out new music all the time. I’m constantly searching and looking for new stuff because shit gets boring. Another straight hip-hop record? I made like 20 of them! I want to find things that’ll want to make me sit in a dark-ass room all day and create.”
DJ Muggs, the veteran DJ/producer/film scorer/label owner/everything else, is discussing his favorite topic – music – while putting the finishing touches on his upcoming album Bass For Your Face (2012, Ultra Records). Dubbing the album “hip-hop fusion,” Face incorporates elements of various electronic music genres, including glitch and dubstep, with hip-hop, for an album that bridges disparate genres and crowds under the umbrella of hard, thumping bass music.
“I’m a bass music fan, period,” Muggs says. “From Miami bass to L.A. 808 to dubstep to drum’n’ bass, I love it all. So anything with bass in it is what this record’s going to be about. But I’m going to bring my own style to it. I want to bring more hip-hop fans into dubstep. I got hip-hop homies that can’t stand electronic music or dubstep, but I’ll play them certain shit and they’ll be like, ‘That’s bangin’.’ I’m trying to be right there.”
As the epicenter of countless musical movements, Muggs is doing more than trying. The globe-trotting DJ spends more than five months a year on the road, where frequent UK trips in the past decade led him to a love of dubstep and its musical successors. As DJ/producer for Cypress Hill, Muggs heard the raw, boom-bap hip-hop sound in a new generation of electronic music producers, brimming with the same visceral, explosive energy that the producer has always brought to his own music.
In 2009, he began producing dubstep on his own, mostly because, as he puts it, “I was bored and music’s free. I don’t like to put myself in a box. You’re creative. You just go and create whatever you’re feeling that day.” Forget genre. Fans of music will find something to love in tracks like “Drop the Beat,” with its reverb-laced opening that could soundtrack the next classic horror film while retaining its g-funk vibe, and “Original Shotta,” with its fractured dubstep rhythm, traditional jazz horns and dub influence. “It starts off real smooth and islandy and then slaps the shit out you when the drums come in,” says Muggs of “Shotta.” On the hyperkinetic “Wicked Wild,” Muggs sums it up succinctly: “It’s adrenaline; just some slam dance mosh pit shit.”
Anyone halfway familiar with Muggs’ 25-year career shouldn’t be surprised at Bass For Your Face’s diversity. As the DJ/producer for legendary West Coast hip-hop group Cypress Hill, Muggs has been nominated for three Grammys and pioneered a rough, bass-heavy production style that would be copied by legions of imitators. His diversity was apparent even then, when the group teamed up with Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth for two tracks on the Judgment Night soundtrack and fused the then-disparate genres of rock and hip-hop. Since then, he has collaborated on albums with GZA and Tricky, founded, and released albums by, the Soul Assassins collective and remixed everyone from Beastie Boys, Funkdoobiest and House of Pain to KRS-One, Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg. He’s also taken to film scoring and soundtrack work, contributing part or in whole to the soundtracks of action films Training Day, Street Kings and Harsh Times. On Bass For Your Face, Muggs’ penchant for collaborations remain, as the producer teams up with Dizzee Rascal and Bambu on “Snap Ya Neck Back” and Chuck D and (hed) pe’s Jared Gomes on “Wicked.”
As Muggs continues to evolve and grow musically, the veteran musician remains a perpetually evolving student of the game. “I’m still trying to get better and better every day,” he says. “I’m trying to get my stage presence up. I’m trying to get my music selection more diverse. I’m trying to get my productions more diverse. I’m always working on my crowd control and scratching. For me, it’s a nonstop process of trying to do something new and improve on what I’ve done before.” One listen to Bass For Your Face easily proves this goal.