Your new Soul Assassins project is titled Intermission. Why drop that instead of an official album?
This is just a mixtape. It’s an interlude between albums. I had a bunch of extra songs laying around and instead of just putting it out as a mixtape, what happens with a mixtape is it lasts about a day. You know as well as me. Nobody takes it serious and nobody wants to do articles or interviews. I put it as an album because I don’t believe in mixtapes. Personally, man, I think they’re a waste. You’re giving away music for free. If you’re an artist and that’s your demo, okay, that’s great. A DJ making a mixtape of other people’s music is great. But there’s no need for me to do a mixtape. I’d rather put good music out there without doing a mixtape because it don’t last. It has no shelf life.
What separates a project of yours from being like a mixtape as opposed to a Soul Assassins album?
DJ Muggs don’t do mixtapes. If this was an album I probably would have did all the songs on the album.
So you would produce all the songs on an official Soul Assassins album?
Definitely. A lot more focus on it. This was a bunch of songs that I had laying around, halfway completed and stuff. You know, they go to waste. “Put a mixtape out, put a mixtape out.” For what? Why would I want to keep giving good music away? This is good music here.
Why do you think the free download is a bad business move?
I don’t think it’s smart. Here’s what I think – I think there’s no visionaries. Nobody can see what’s next. Everyone’s following suit and they’re four years behind. If you’re an artist and you want to build something, you don’t throw a bunch of mixtapes out. There’s no value in the mixtapes. It devalues music. It’s a waste of fucking time. Someone can hear it and it can be the best shit of all time and it’s not going to matter. Let’s be honest.
But let’s put an album out instead of a mixtape. You know what you can do with that album? You can get interviewed on HipHopGame. You’re going to get press. Promoters are going to take it serious. You’re going to be able to go on tour. The shit’s gonna be on sales at the stores and you’re going to have a retail history for your next album. Did you ever hear Rakim put out a mixtape?
Let’s take it to now. You don’t see an Atmosphere or Brother Ali put out a mixtape. What you do is you put an album out. If you’re a new group, put an album out and go tour like a punk rock band, for nothing if you gotta do ‘em. Then you put your second album out. Not a mixtape, an album. Now you’re cultivating a fanbase. After three years, you’re going to have a nice fanbase and you’re going to be able to tour and sell merch and albums. You’re going to build an identity and tour and build a career. You’re developing yourself as an act. This is my personal opinion. They’re not building nothing. If you’re giving music away there’s nothing to attach it to and it’s going to waste. People are going to pay more attention to your album. They get shelf space and they get ad space.
Why do you think so many up-and-coming artists give away mixtapes for free?
I think a lot of people have the right idea but they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re all over the place and they have no direction. Their ideas are regurgitated ideas that are five years old. You have to know what’s next. The mixtape game was hot. It got people a little bit out there but I think a lot of these guys are going to become mixtape rappers. Where are their albums? They have 15 volumes of mixtapes but where are their albums? The element of surprise, homie.
You didn’t hear Public Enemy mixtapes before the first album so when you heard the album it had a huge impact. Same with The Chronic. After I hear five mixtapes from you and you come with an album, I heard it all. What do you do now? I heard it all. Maybe get a big-name producer? These kids need to start focusing on putting their album out and even if you ship 1,000 records, homie, it’s on the shelf and you can tour and then you do it again and do it again until you’re selling all those records.
Do what the punk rock bands do and sell them at the venues. That’s how I feel about the mixtapes. It might work for somebody and that’s good but if I had a new artist coming out, I would leak songs but would I come out with a fucking mixtape? No. You better go and work, homie, for the next three years. You gotta work. Nothing’s for free.
What do you think of artists handling their own business on social networking sites and leaking their own music?
I think that great. The game is boring. Everybody takes themselves too serious and everyone thinks they’re stars. They don’t even have an album out, homie. You know what that means? You know the college kid that got drafted high but he never played a game? He could be the next Mickey Mantle or LeBron but he never got in the game. The buzz they’re getting off their mixtapes is giving them status before they even put an album out. I’m not going to champion you when you never had a fucking album out yet. Come on. I don’t give a fuck, homie. Put an album out and make a contribution to this music. Do something different and innovative and then come say something. Otherwise you’re another fucking rapper. I don’t give a fuck about another fucking rapper. Get to the end of the line, homie!
Blogs are much more effective today than they were four years ago. What do you think of the blogs’ impact on music?
I think they’re good and bad. I think that the news is old. As soon as it’s up on a blog, it’s over. Feel me? “Oh, that’s old already. That was up yesterday. It’s old.” Everything is so quick and there’s no shelf life. It’s part of the game that you gotta work with Twitter and use it to get you out there, but I think even with a lot of the rappers using all this stuff, the thing that these rock stars had was you couldn’t touch them, dude. You didn’t really know them. There was a bit of mystery that made it bigger than life and made you want to be it. Now everything is personalized and that part of the game is gone.
It’s like, ‘I know you. You’re not special to me.’ Metallica wasn’t doing that shit. I don’t look at Jay-Z and wonder what I should do with my career. I never did. I wanted to be the Rolling Stones. I wanted to be Led Zeppelin. I wanted to be Black Sabbath. I wanted to be the bands making the most money touring all over the world. That’s who I wanted to be like and that’s who I always wanted to be like.
You do a lot of work establishing the Soul Assassins brand. Are you happy with where it is now?
I helped create some great motherfuckers. I’m so content with the talent that we’ve produced, from Cypress to Psycho Realm to Alchemist and DJ Khalil and Mister Cartoon. As an artistic movement, we’re the No. 1 movement out of Los Angeles, ever. The No. 1 artistic movement and it don’t stop for us. We’re not about hype. I’m not into the hype, dude. The hype’s the hype, dude. There’s no foundation for the hype. We don’t stop, man. We build. We’re internationally-strong. We go to every continent and every country and we build. Our profits go up every year and we’re steady and we’re consistent.
You’ve always been about your business first and your follow through is on point. How much do you think that’s helped you?
That’s the law of success, period. If you want to be successful, you do those things. If you go over any book on being successful, they’ll tell you the same thing. There ain’t a mystery. There’s a way to do things to be successful, and not just as a flash in the pan. Our first record was in ’88. I’m cool. I’m having fun creating art and doing what I want to do, every day and how I want to do it. How many people can say it? Not too many people.
Half of these motherfuckers that are on the blogs, I don’t give a fuck. Who gives a fuck? I don’t give a fuck. Make great albums that are going to be received over the years like the first Wu album and then go do it again. Then do it again. And then do it again. And then you’re going to get some fucking props. Anybody can have a good fucking game, dog, but can you do it consistent and every year? You don’t even have an album out? Shut up.
Why do you think the album has become so unappreciated today by most artists?
I don’t think nobody has no vision. I think there’s no great music and I think everybody who thinks for themselves and they get this great idea, they’re all a bunch of fucking sheep that are being led blindly. It’s funny how they think they have control and they’re above everything. They’re sheep in a fucking heard, man, and it’s so funny to listen to these motherfuckers.
And look at Big Brother. They’re not going to put cameras on street corners. They’re going to give you Twitter and cameras on your phone. Who’s going to police the people? The people are! They figured it out. They’re going to give you toys to play with and they’re going to play with their fucking toys and they’re going to get so deep-rooted into our culture that you’re not going to be able to live without it. And motherfuckers ain’t got vision in this game. They don’t know how to build a career. You gotta do it like Tech N9ne and Atmosphere. Go study how they did it. These rappers need to go and do that. “Oh, I got 100 songs.” Where’s your fucking album? If you got 100 songs and you ain’t got hits? Hello! You know how many songs GZA recorded for Liquid Swords? Exactly how many songs that are on Liquid Swords. If you do 100 songs and you don’t have any hits, hello, you don’t got it. Go get a fucking job.
I’m guessing you won’t be signing up for Twitter anytime soon.
A lot of motherfuckers these days, period, they have a sense of entitlement like they’re supposed to have something. You know, nobody owes you nothing. You shouldn’t be the one thinking you’re dope and saying you’re dope. That’s for the people to decide. It cracks me up looking at this shit every day. This is some funny shit. Everybody’s got their blog and everybody’s important and everybody’s got their Twitter and MySpace and everybody’s so busy doing something every day but nothing’s getting done.
And some people have a different way of being lazy. Overseas people go to coffee shops and have a smoke. People in America go on MySpace and Twitter and the club. Don’t confuse the effort with results. Motherfuckers is all day doing shit and get nothing done. How do you do that?
Another thing, too, holmes, is there is some fucking great music out.
Who do you like?
Motherfuckers like Black Milk. Motherfuckers like Exile and Mos Def. There’s good fucking music out. Dead Prez. Stop saying music sucks. There’s good music. Go find it. Stop listening to the radio. Radio has always sucked. When has radio been good? Radio hasn’t been good in L.A. since KDAY left, when they were breaking records. Radio has always sucked. Remember Chuck D? “Radio Won’t Play Me.” They were playing Vanilla Ice and Hammer. Stop acting like the radio is good.
That’s why they make CDs and cassettes and albums, so you can go and listen to what you want. Radio can suck my dick. Don’t ever play my fucking song again, radio. Ever, radio. Please! And you know what the funny thing is? They still play it. The thing is, I don’t give a fuck and I never have, dude. I’m telling you, we consider ourselves more like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd over here instead of some pop shit.
I wouldn’t want to mess with you if you were on some pop shit.
I wouldn’t want to fuck with me either. I’d have to shoot myself! Well, I wouldn’t want to do that either. I got shit to do.
What’s it like working on beats with Alchemist?
Al’s a genius. Al could have been a doctor or in NASA and flying ships to the moon. Al is a genius. Whatever he wants to put his mind and energy in, he will be successful at it. That’s in his DNA and what his concentration is like. Al is a great music person. Al is a visionary and he sees the song.
You’ve done albums with GZA, Sick Jacken and Planet Asia. Who do you want to work with next?
I don’t know. I want to do one with Ill Bill. We have a couple of songs recorded. We’re doing one right now. I like his vibe and we get along real good and he’s got a flow. I shouldn’t have to put any effort into making a record. It should just flow. If I gotta start putting effort and thinking into it, I’m through, dog. I never made albums like that.
How do you like making full albums with different artists?
Cypress was like having one artist. I like having albums and I like making albums. I like seeing it from beginning to the end, from the artwork to the videos to the stage shows. I’m a producer. I’m not a beatmaker where I send my beats out and somebody else mixes it and I say I produced the song. No I didn’t. I didn’t guide the rap or the hook. I just wrote the beat. In other music besides hip-hop, these people are called songwriters and never do you see them with a song credit. They did not produce the project. They wrote the song. A lot of people think they produced the song but they just did the beat. How could you produce it if you weren’t in the fucking studio with the rapper?
If you had to change one thing about the game today, what would it be?
I would get rid of the internet. The internet should go away.
What should I do then?
Don’t try to change my answer! If I could get rid of one thing I would get rid of the internet. I think a lot of people are detrimental to this thing and they’re downloading fucking music and downloading art and I think if it were gone they would be more appreciative and they would find music and it would stand the test of time and it would bring the power back to the internet. There we go. Now let’s see who wins now. Remember when people thought the internet was going to help artists? This shit hurt artists, homie? Now all the fans have to do is download the records.
Will you give me a letter of recommendation if the internet goes away?
I don’t know. You’re a smart cat, man. You’re personable. You’ll be fine.
Thanks, Muggs. How’s the official Soul Assassins album looking right now?
Well, we’re working on a documentary right now and they’re going to coincide. You try to put a timeline on these things and the game takes its course. I’m looking at the end of next year.
At one point it was just going to be you and Planet Asia doing the entire album. It seems like this project has been going through some changes.
I was going to do the Soul Assassins album with one artist because it’s easier to tour but I didn’t do that. You can have ideas but things change, man. Life’s moving. Life is alive. Your ability to change and move is what it’s all about. Ideas change, man, and they’re going to continue to change. Other opportunities are going to pop up in the midst of things and some things are going to be put on the back burner and things are going to change. This is real life, man.