Muggs, you’re about to launch SoulAssassins.com. What made you want to get a site up?
Well, we kept a website for a lot of years, but we decided that our crew is so big and our crew is so extensive and we didn’t have a hub to connect everybody. We got Cartoon over here. I have Alchemist over here. Cypress Hill is over here, Coka Nostra is over here and Muggs is over here. If you want to find out anything about anybody, you have to go through all these searches and some people you didn’t even know are a part of the crew. We decided that you need one hub where you can go if you want information on these particular artists. That’s why we started the site.
There’s a million hip-hop sites out there. How will SoulAssassins.com stand out?
Soul Assassins as a crew already stands out amongst other hip-hop crews, period. We have the Joker brand and we have a ton of stores. We have hip-hop producers like myself, Alchemist and Khalil. We’re a different kind of hip-hop crew being that we ain’t all rappers and we ain’t all beatmakers. Motherfuckers are talented artists that bring their art to the game and we all help each other along the road. What made us bring this all together at one point is I was giving photographers and other people jobs and they were blowing up off of us. They could go and work with whoever they wanted to work with but they weren’t returning the love. They were like, ‘Thanks for the hook up, Muggs. Peace!’ I was like, ‘Fuck that.’ My crew is doing the artwork and the videos and now you can see what we developed. Cartoon is one of the biggest artists in the world and we have Alchemist and Khalil and everybody helping each other. We have our own fanbase and you see some crews come and some crews go. We don’t have to have an album out. We own L.A., dude. We run this whole fucking city, homie.
How important is it in 2008 that you handle as much business as possible in-house?
I think it’s very, very important. We’ve had enough years to build this infrastructure from traveling the world 30 times. We pretty much can do everything in-house. We know the job we’re going to get and we know who’s going to do what. And not only with jobs, but we pass things on. If there’s money in stuff, I can give it to Cartoon and he’s passed some work back to me. And the good thing is that we have an international fanbase. We don’t have to look at Soundscan or what’s going on in New York. We look at how we can make it happen internationally and that’s what our numbers reflect. Don’t look at just Soundscan and get it twisted. Most of our fans still buy the records from swap meets and stores that don’t have Soundscan. A lot of labels can’t believe it.
You have your A market, your B market and your C market. A lot of groups do big numbers in the A markets, like Boston, Chicago and L.A. We do numbers in our C markets that a lot of people do in their A and B markets. The regular way to work things don’t necessarily work for us.
What gives you that kind of loyal fanbase?
It’s all of our work. It’s all of it. First of all, it’s touring. We tour like punk rock groups. We go out there and we fucking tour. Fuck a record label. Go out there, get in your van and fucking tour. We did that for years. Alchemist does that. Cypress still does that. And Cartoon gets out there. Everybody gets out there and everybody builds relationships and everybody brings relationships back. What it is is building good relationships with people and sticking to your word and being consistent with people. I’m dealing with somebody 10 years later and they say we’re on point, we pay our bills and there’s no egos. You don’t get none of that from us. And at the end of the day, we’re all still artists. What we do, it isn’t all about a line. I don’t worry about it. We still have fun and make music. We don’t have an A&R telling us who to put on a hook. I’m like, ‘Eat a dick, homie.’ I’m going to continue doing this my way.
You made some noise two weeks ago with the first leak off the Planet Asia with the song “Shadows of Hell”.
It’s coming real good. We made a mistake on my end. I had an original concept and it’s a pain in the ass chasing these artists down for Soul Assassins. Here comes their lawyers and managers and paperwork. It’s easier to put a mixtape together because nobody cares and they’re all down to do it. But once you go to put a record out, everybody’s got their fucking hand out. I wanted to make this Soul Assassins record with Planet Asia. My homies were telling me to keep it simple. We were going to have to change it. The Planet Asia record is not the same as Soul Assassins. That press release was wrong. Planet Asia is a rapper. He’s like Big Daddy Kane out here. I look at his projects and he comes around and he’s hungry. He’s inspiring. He doesn’t sit on his hands and he doesn’t act like he knows everything. Most of these rappers haven’t sold anything and they know everything. Okay, homie, you sold 12,000 records. Let’s try it my way now.
Asia’s been a little inconsistent with the beats he would pick and I thought he was little all over the place. Producers always want to give him their hottest beats but it’s not all about the hottest beat or the hottest line. It’s about the hottest song. When I saw that with Asia, I saw that I needed to build his record a whole other way. It’s fun. You have to keep the creative juices flowing and you can’t stop. We’re done recording. I’m mixing today. We should have seven songs mixed after today. Everything I’m leaking isn’t going to be on the album. You’re not going to have none of that because we recorded enough songs to leak enough songs. It’s a real, I don’t want to put no comparisons on it, but nobody would expect that from an L.A. cat. You know how we do it.
Will this be Planet Asia’s most cohesive album?
Yeah. It’ll be a cohesive piece of work. He’ll have a lot of good beats and a lot of good raps, but he’ll be all over the place. The thing about Asia is he’ll be all over the place. I like Jim Jones, I like 50 Cent, I like Common and I like Atmosphere. Motherfuckers ask me how I can like it. I don’t like everything they say, but I like what they do and Asia likes that too and he can rap on all of those beats. Now it’s like, ‘Let’s stick to this.’ At the same time, he likes it raw. I can loop something up and not even put a kick drum on it and he likes that. Not too many people like that. That’s like back in the day. Now everyone wants everything over-produced.
Maybe Ghostface would like that. I had time to build and develop it and and structure it. Making a song is the first step with Asia. Then once he leaves I have to make it work. I’m in the process of doing that. But the kid works hard. He’s a fucking workhorse. It’s nothing. We’re reuniting L.A. again. We’re bringing Psycho Realm together and there’s La Coka Nostra and Asia and Self Scientific. We’re still bringing it together just like I told you three years ago when we talked. We’re still in the process of doing that. We’ve been doing shows and banging out and people are starting to see that happen out here.
Why is it taking so long to bring everyone together?
When you’re doing it, it takes time. Anything that involves a lot of people and you’re just doing it, it just takes time, man. If I had a million dollars, everybody would be able to drop what they’re doing and come do this. But right now, it just takes time. And you have to cultivate. I want fans, dude. I don’t want record consumers. Consumers might go buy your record and they might not buy your record the next time. My fans are going to come to my shows, buy my shirt and buy my new shirt when it comes out next month. That’s what we want. I’m cool with 500 of those than 500,000 motherfuckers who might buy your record next year.
You’re a producer who’s really about making a complete album. Is the game shifting completely towards a single-driven market?
I think it’s changed a long time ago but I think it’s still changing. With technology, when I came in, it was all commercial. I’m talking 1990. You had Vanilla Ice and Young MC and “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand”. There were R&B singers on the radio and they took over the rap scene. Bourgeois motherfuckers who hated this shit came and took it and now they’re able to do whatever they want. That’s cool. I’m going to keep on making this shit the way I want to make it. It’s always been those little girls who buy your singles. Those aren’t really your fans. Those are just people who are going to buy the hot single for that month. If they don’t buy it, cool. I still do this for the fun of it. If I didn’t, I would be running around, trying to get the single on somebody’s record. But I enjoy doing this and we cultivate fans.
Sick Jacken’s The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin has been out for a few months now. Are you happy with how it did?
Of course. All these labels are still working like it’s 1980. The old school system is kind of dead and that’s why they’re going out of business. They don’t know how to make moves and how to work records different from other records. You can’t just put it in the system and expect it to work for everybody. But what me and Jack have been able to do and do shows worldwide, it’s been amazing. The response has been amazing. We had a show two nights ago and we got one next week in L.A. Everything’s sold out. There were eight cop cars outside and helicopters and everything. They fuck up everything out in L.A. We had an in-store and they had fucking 15 cop cars there for nothing because they’re scared. You feel me? Every time we do something, they show up like that. There’s not even a fight. They just hate to see a bunch of baldheaded motherfuckers, gangster-looking fools, all show up in the same spot.
Do you get that kind of response everywhere or just in L.A?
That’s L.A. This is our city, you know what I mean? Other cities are different. We get a really good response in other cities. If you can’t own your home, you can’t own nowhere. You need to lock down your homebase first. That’s what I tell fools. The one disadvantage we have in L.A. is our lack of media outlets. When I go out in New York, I’m hanging out with someone from MTV or VH1 or Vibe or Rap City and they ask me what I have cracking and tell me to come up to their office. When I go out to L.A., we don’t have none of that happening. You don’t hear about everything because we don’t have a publicist pumping it to them. They pump the same four or five people out of L.A. that you hear about consistently. The same people that you hear about have publicists and connections, but who really runs this, you don’t hear about it because they don’t come out to these shows and they don’t know that we run it like this.
Did you see XXL’s list of who they think is next out of the West?
No, I did not.
I’ll wait until you see it to ask you about it. Do you ever get frustrated by your lack of coverage in major print magazines?
There will be certain points and certain periods of time when I’m like, ‘Damn.’ But I don’t sit around whining and complaining about it. I just do what I do.
How’s Soul Assassins III coming?
I got so many songs. I got a lot of songs. I’m just going to put it out the right way. There’s a lot of songs done. It’s just a matter of who, what, where, when and why. It’s a lot easier to tour with the record. Now since the mixtapes have come out, how can somebody go and make a compilation record better than a mixtape because you don’t have to clear any samples or any rappers. You don’t have to worry about that shit, but when you’re trying to make an album like that, it’s a little harder to clear it and it’s a little harder to tour for it. I’m trying to figure out who I can put on the record that I can tour with and bring it to the people. I don’t think that the records are going to have the shelf life that it would have had a few years ago. You know that as good as me. So that’s another thing that we have to deal with.
I hate to say anything about it because once I say anything, motherfuckers hold you to it. But times change and as the atmosphere changes, I might change my mind and do something else. As I go along with this plan, something switches. So I have to be able to switch my plan up quick, just like life. And how fast can you improvise and adapt and overcome? I’ll get it in. Motherfuckers have enough businesses and enough things going on and music is just one part. It’s probably 5%,10% if I’m doing shows. It’s something that we love and we’re doing it and that’s what it is.
Are you working on the La Coka Nostra album?
I’m not involved in it. I recorded a couple of songs. I think they’re going to come back to me and want me to do a couple of songs. Those are my boys. They have 100% of my support. They’ve been building that project really good and Danny Boy is a fucking genius with his marketing. I think they’re doing it really good and they’re right on time. They’re right on pace. A lot of whiteboys don’t have anything to root for out there. There’s some good fucking music out there. You used to go to the Beastie Boy shows and the Run-DMC and Public Enemy shows and the N.W.A. shows and there’s hardcore, skinhead, punk dudes and there’s nothing for them no more, dude. There’s no music for them like that. I think Coka Nostra is going to fill in that for them where these motherfuckers can come out and root for some hardcore shit and fill a void that’s been there for a few years. I think La Coka Nostra is going to be good for that. The beats are hard. The beats are banging. There’s lots of energy. It’s going to be good.
What’s the next move for DJ Muggs?
My next move for now…Man, there’s too many things going on, dude. I’m scoring a new movie called Street Kings starting Keanu Reeves and Forrest Whitaker. You can check out the trailer online if you want. The director is David Ayer, who I started working with on Training Day. I scored some of Training Day. I’m doing the last scene on Street Kings today and that comes out on April 11. So look out for that. I’m going to finish that by 6 and Asia is coming in to work on Planet Asia with me tonight. We’ll mix tonight and tomorrow and that’s this week, homie. Everything else, you know, we got so many businesses. We got construction companies and real estate companies. We own restaurants. It’s the everyday life for us out here, man. It’s a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I might be throwing trash out of a restaurant next week. We try to care for all of our businesses, be hands-on with everything and try to keep it moving.