DJ Muggs & Planet Asia: Painkillers

While Obama and McCain do their thing in the coming months, California-bred combo DJ Muggs and Planet Asia have their own campaigning to do. The latest project matching Muggs with another underground giant for a full-length LP, Pain Language, promises to be the unorthodox and avant-garde album their respective fans will be expecting.It’s hard to imagine how these two found time to actually sit down in the studio for any consecutive period of time in the past year. Planet Asia stayed busy touring extensively overseas and at home while Muggs was working on a seemingly infinite number of projects, from a new Cypress Hill album to scoring the latest Keanu Reeves film Street Kings. No matter, the pair linked up in the lab for roughly 35 days this past year, in which time they knocked out over 25 tracks, citing undeniable chemistry and a cohesive artistic vision as driving forces behind the project.AllHipHop can certainly vouch for the duo’s chemistry, as the recent three-way conversation contained more than a few instances of one artist finishing a thought for the other and minimal interruption on our behalf.AllHipHop.com: With an album pairing an MC and producer like this there are always expectations. Did you guys ever think about the expectations your fans might have?DJ Muggs: Those thoughts crossed my mind, and I know Asia works hard. He’s constantly touring, constantly on the grind, popping up at people’s shows. I liked his work ethic and the way he grinds, so I figured it’s worth me putting my time and energy in because there’s going to be somebody on the other [end] who is going to put that time and energy into this project. It’s still an underground record so it’s going to be interesting to see what people think now. I worked on the damn record, I know what I think. I like it. What do y’all think?AllHipHop.com: Was there a point where you both looked at each other and just knew it was going to be a good partnership?DJ Muggs: The kind of music Asia likes and the kind of music I like and the kind of project we both wanted to do, we were in the same place at that time. We recorded the first few songs and I knew it was going to be banging, it just made me wish we could have got it done quicker.Planet Asia: We got the same taste buds man. That’s what made it easier, so we could pick what we wanted. It wasn’t like he would have the track already done in the studio, that’s boring. We would find a loop and it would be like a skeleton. I would rhyme over it, and then he would do what he do to it.DJ Muggs: We just vibed and collaborated and made a record like a group. We thought about where we were going to start each day and went from there. “I like this kick and snare, let’s start building.” He’d start writing and I’d start building.AllHipHop.com: It’s obvious the last two Muggs projects with GZA (Grandmasters) and Sick Jacken (Legend of the Mask and the Assassin) were done in that manner. Asia you must have been hyped to know you were getting on board something like that.Planet Asia: Oh yeah, cause Jack was finishing up that album when I had just started. I got a chance to hear what he was doing and I was like, “Whoa, this is right up my alley.” So I was already excited just off of that album to do this, and the GZA album of course. We all got that album. I knew Muggs was making the kind of music I’ve been trying to find, and it’s rare that you can get that. A lot of dudes right now be doing too much to the beat, over-producing the joint to where it ain’t leaving no room for the MC. He makes his beats for an MC to rhyme to, not just to showcase the track.DJ Muggs: It always about the beat or the rap man, it’s about the song. Sometimes more is less. Sometimes this beat calls for less, but sometimes it calls for layers.Planet Asia: A song like “9mm” is one of the ones that has a lot to it, but it fit well.DJ Muggs: As a producer you’ve got to know when to leave it alone and know it’s done. You can also do something else, and if I wanted to I could work on the project for the next five years. That comes down to instincts, because you can’t read about them or learn them. You’re born with instincts so you can say, “Alright it’s done and it sounds right. This one needs to be simple and this one is complicated.” DJ Muggs vs Planet Asia “9mm” VideoAllHipHop.com: Asia you know what it’s like to sit around on a major label waiting your turn. Is it sweet to be able to put out material on the timeline you want, the way you want?Planet Asia: It’s a blessing to be able to have a person who’s sold the amount of records that he’s sold, and to have a “f**k you” attitude. Most people that have platinum plaques have a gay attitude when it comes to the music, like they’re still trying to impress the radio and s**t. I’m like, “Yo, you already made your mark. You don’t really have nothing to prove, just be fresh now. You’ve done the songs with Pearl Jam and U2, now it’s time to come back to basics.” A lot of dudes is scared to f**k with the raw s**t man.DJ Muggs: And with the radio you’ll get fly-by-night Top 40 fans that will buy your song for that reason, but I want supporters. I want motherf**kers that like the kind of art that you do and the portraits you paint, and around the world they’ll support you and what you do.Planet Asia: I heard an interesting thing that Skillz had said. He said that if Biggie was alive right now as we speak, and if Puffy was at the level he was already at right now, Biggie would not be able to get put on. You’ve got to think about it. Imagine if you see Biggie in a reality TV show like we seen with Making The Band. We wouldn’t have taken Biggie seriously like how we take Biggie [now], right? It could be a Biggie right around Puff all the time, but because of the level he’s playing on he’s not on the foundation and he’s not going to be able to find another Biggie. And there’s a lot of Biggies right around him. So for [Muggs] to have had that success and still f**k with a cat like me that’s not necessarily on the big radar scale, it’s dope he sees me for that talent.DJ Muggs: Asia has good energy man, it’s inspiring. In the studio he’s still hungry, he still loves the s**t. He works, does interviews, will do 100 shows a year, that’s inspiring to me. I don’t get inspired much anymore, know what I mean? So to be around energy like that makes me want to work on music. I could go in there and make a f**kin’ thousand beats, but then what? It’s almost like a body with no soul and no heart.Planet Asia: Not only that, he’s Muggs from Cypress Hill! He could just go and f**k with a known cat and, say “F**k the underground s**t.” He could move to Miami and just f**k with the cats over there, or go over wherever. Nah, he’s f**king with what he thinks is hot, not what everybody else thinks is hot. That’s what it’s about, just staying true to yourself. Not staying true to the game, cause I don’t know what that means. It’s staying true to your roots, and our roots is just raw music. And I’m not f**king with him just because he’s Muggs. I know a lot of producers, a lot of dudes that’s in the game right now with big careers but that doesn’t mean I want to do a whole album with them. The reason we did this album together is definitely a vibe thing. And he still takes opinions! If I have an opinion, it’s not like he saying, “I’m Muggs, I do this, fall back son!” If I tell him that maybe we should do this or that on this song, he takes it into consideration. When you’re dealing with somebody who’s got success with out ego, that’s rare. DJ Muggs & Planet Asia “Pain Language” VideoAllHipHop.com: Being that there is so much for consumers to choose from, how would you describe the album for the kid in Fat Beats with Pain Language in one hand and something else in the other, trying to make a decision?Planet Asia: If you like that dark, hardcore s**t, cop our s**t. DJ Muggs: That punch you in the face music that makes you run on the treadmill harder.Planet Asia: Ain’t no singing, ain’t no R&B, ain’t none of that lovey-dovey on our album. This is straight grumpy n***a rap.DJ Muggs: (Laughs) On another note, I’ve been watching Asia for a bunch of years and I think he’s an incredible rapper. The one thing I’ve noticed as far as what I noticed about working with Asia as a producer is he never had a musical image or a musical style, and he always had good beats. Asia is like me, he likes all kinds of music, from Young Jeezy to R. Kelly to Wu-Tang, and he’ll rap on all that s**t cause he’s a fan of all of it. But having a musical image this time and a focused musical style, and sitting together and building on it, I think it’s a cohesive piece of work that’s going to show him in another light and let him flex his muscles so people will say “OK, that’s Planet Asia right there.”AllHipHop.com: It must be a good feeling when you walk out of the studio everyday not having to worry about getting final approval from anybody but yourself and the fans.    DJ Muggs: Yeah man, I’ve always been about that. My whole career is me doing what I wanted to do, even in the early stages with Cypress. We were successful early, so I was pretty much able to do what I wanted to do. At the end of Cypress being on Columbia though, we got in situations where there wasn’t no music people up there no more. There was just college kids up there or whatever. It was frustrating because we had visions for the records and they just weren’t getting it. They’re looking at BDS and radio and what’s hot this week, telling you what you need to do. I don’t need to do nothing, I just need to keep being Led Zepplin. We’re not Britney Spears homie, you just don’t understand. So that got frustrating for a minute, so that’s when we decided to just do it our way. And I got a world of fans man. I’ve been traveling internationally since 1989, so with the legion of fans we built worldwide we approach it like the Rolling Stones. You can never be the next boy band or the next pop star in the centre of attention, on TV and pop radio all f**king day. And I could give a s**t, really.We never made pop records, and even the hit songs we had, if you listen to what was on the radio those days, our songs don’t even fit into what radio wanted to play. So we just put up the middle finger and say “F**k you,” like N.W.A. Don’t play our records or videos, because that’s what Hip-Hop is where we come from.

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