DJ Muggs: Grandmaster

DJ Muggs: Grandmaster of beats, rhymes and chess

DJ Muggs offers me the plush sofa seat and pulls up a chair as chunky hip-hop beats  echo from the main stage into a much chiller room at J-Lo's club The Conga Room on Wilshire.  It's the release party for Grandmasters, Muggs's latest collaboration with GZA and other Wu-Tang rappers, to be released Tuesday.

Almost everybody knows  Muggs as the DJ who produced some seriously smokey beats as Cypress Hill burst from bong-laden backrooms on to the national stage. Tonight he's here talk to journos about his latest album and maybe spin a tune or two alongside upcoming LA rapper Self Scientific. Bizarrely, we end up talking about chess.

With a relaxed vibe, Muggs kicks off the conversation: "Yeah we just having this release party, have all our friends come down and create some awareness out here cause, y'know, we ain't a commercial group, we don't get radio all day and videos playing all day.

"So we create a wave on the alternative scene, and for publicity, there's nothing like the mouth, you know,  America's favorite past-time is  gossip."

On Grandmasters,  which   Muggs produced in its entirety on his Angeles label in two weeks in his Burbank studio,  he says:  "We creating a vibe and a movement, real underground hardcore hip-hop album, you know what I mean.

Grandmaster is released 22 Oct.

"Some people don't really make music with truth in their hearts,  they have music in the charts and go on and be successful and do their things. This is like a real punk-rock album,  a real f***-you album, that's what I always been about.
"I compare it  to Cypress Hill's Temple of Boom, it's very dark, very night-time listening, laid back. I like music like that. It's a mood and an energy."

What was it like getting back with the Wu-Tang crew? "We got RZA on the album, Masta Killa, Raekwon, Sen Dog [of Cypress Hill] we were  hanging out every day, I hooked up RZA first time in 1994, and again in '96, '97, '98 '99, we hang out. We play chess."

Which is a theme throughout  the album, with tracks titled  Queen's Gambit and Advance Pawns.  Obviously, I ask him why.

LA rapper Self Scientific

He answers: "When  I produce people's albums or a particular artist, I try to look into their personalities to see what they're about,  whether with a group or an individual rapper,  what they're really into  outside of music.

'And GZA is a chess fanatic, all he does is play chess. I play chess as well so I said I'm gonna make this is a real chess-themed album: the  titles are chess-themed, grandmasters are the highest level for a chess player, and also Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel -  it's about battle.

"You know chess is a way of life, it teaches you strategy, and patience.  But chess right now is like golf before Tiger Woods came along, so we trying to take it to the kids. We're doing a chess tournament in San Francisco next month, check it out."

Muggs, who hosts Mashup Monday on Sirius radio, is also enthused by his latest Mashup DJ project, which splices hip-hop beats and rock music riffs a la Soulwax's Too Many DJs.

He says: "We got nine cities on board right now, radio stations in each, we working on a VH1 special.  But, you know, I think right now we're too far ahead of terrestrial radio, it's gonna take a year before everybody gets it. it's taking off right now, it's keeping it  hip-hop.  

Then after a bit more talk, it was time for  Muggs to circulate, and with a handshake and a shout out to Self Scientific, who played out the night in front of the hollering crowd,  Muggs says:   "Thankyou brother, y'all got drink tickets? 

Don't mind if I do, fella, cheers...


Main stage at The Conga Rooms


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