Back in the spring I was excited to hear you guys were doing an album. How did you two come together in the first place?
DJ Muggs: Well, I was finishing up the project with Sick Jacken and I said, “I want to start another project like this, man.” Chace had mentioned it and Asia’s the shit. So we banged out a couple of joints and they were bangers. They were banging! We were like, ‘We gotta do it!’ Then Asia went on tour and then I went on tour. Through our schedules it took us a little more time than if we had nothing to do. We didn’t have a budget and we didn’t have a label. When we had extra time we jumped in the studio and it wasn’t a priority ‘til the end. I was excited about the energy that Asia brings. It’s just that new, raw energy and I feed off that. It makes me hyped and it makes me want to work harder on my beats.
Planet Asia, all your albums have featured other producers. What was it like working with one producer on one album?
Planet Asia: This was right up my alley because the music that he makes is rare. You don’t have a lot of cats making raw hip-hop shit nowadays. Everybody is trying to make that top 40 music now. I was trying to get to the foundation and I feel like Muggs just speaks for my type of vibe. So it was easy doing music with him. It was a piece of cake. We were having fun. It wasn’t no strain or stress in the studio. It wasn’t nothing coming up with concepts for songs. I would just go where the music would take me. And Muggs has always been one of my favorite producers. I remember when Cypress Hill first came out. I got that album in the 9th grade. As a matter of fact, the first show that I ever performed at was at a Cypress Hill show. So my history with Muggs goes back. The first show I ever did, man, I was like, 14 or 13 years-old and I did a show with Cypress Hill when I was in a local crew back in the days and we got to open up for them when they came to Fresno. And that was a big deal for me to go back to school and say that we performed with Cypress Hill. That’s a big deal.
DJ Muggs: We got to go to the studio and make the record that we wanted to make. We didn’t have someone saying that we had to make one for the radio and asking what Power 106 would think.
Planet Asia: When most cats put together an album, they have radio cats come through and critique their shit. We don’t care about none of that. We put this out for the cats that like this kind of music. Some people might not even like the album. If you don’t like raw shit than you might not like this album. If you like songs with hella singing and flowers and hearts, you might not like this shit. This is that punch-you-in-your-face rap. There’s northing really pretty or fucking glossy about this.
No flowers at all?
Planet Asia: No flowers at all! None of that shit is on this album! Ain’t no rainbow coalition, peace on earth on this album. This is a war album!
I’m looking forward to hearing the full version. Did you find you were more focused as an MC working with only one producer than a bunch of different ones as you’ve always done in the past?
Planet Asia: Oh, of course because you have to stay on the same page. And you can’t really stray away when you’re working with one producer and try and bend things because you heard one hot song on the radio and you’re trying to emulate that. You can’t do that. When you work with more producers, you can stray away from your original plan. That’s why an artist can name his album and then by the time you get his album it has nothing to do with his title. Why is it like that? It’s because he went and got all of these different producers and they have their own plans for how the artist should be sounding and then you just get a compilation of songs. It’s not an album. It’s a compilation.
Speaking of compilations, you guys almost named this album Soul Assassins Volume 3. Are you glad you didn’t go that route?
DJ Muggs: Yeah. It took on a life of its own and it wouldn’t have done this project no justice or the Soul Assassins project no justice. At the end of the day it ended up working itself out.
Muggs, you’ve done albums with GZA and Sick Jacken recently. Did Planet Asia bring a different vibe out of you than GZA and Jacken?
DJ Muggs: Yeah! Asia comes in a hundred miles an hour ready to work! And he has the same musical sensibilities as me too so it was easy going through the beats and picking beats out. We both wanted to make the same record and we were both looking for that motherfucker to make that record with and we found them. It’s about time there’s a motherfucker gets it! Someone who explains it to me the way I’m thinking it. Yes. That’s what I’m talking about.
Were a lot of the beats on Pain Language ones you already had or older ones?
DJ Muggs: All the beats were made on the spot. One beat was old. I was supposed to work with Inspectah Deck four years ago and I remade that beat and made it fresh. I couldn’t find the disk so I had to remake it. I put all these new sounds on it and made a whole new track out of it.
Looking at the album Pain Language as a whole, are you guys happy with the way it came out?
Planet Asia: It’s my best record, man! It’s like a movie-album to me because you can listen to it from the beginning to end and it feels like you went through something, like you went through a journey. I like for albums to take me somewhere.
Planet Asia, you’ve done a lot of albums and you saying that Pain Language is your best album is a heavy statement for you to make.
Planet Asia: Yeah. If you listen to my other albums you don’t hear where the songs connect. They’re just songs. These songs connect to each other and they’re put in the right order. They’re put together right.
How did you two sequence Pain Language?
Planet Asia: That’s where the real producer comes in.
DJ Muggs: I put records together for interest. I wanted to create a movement and I wanted to create an atmosphere. I wanted to start the record off with energy and then in the middle of the record bring you down and then at the end come in with the fucking heat. It’s like a musical psychedelic trip, really. It’s kind of a tail-end of the vibe I started getting into at the end of the Sick Jacken record and it pretty much took hold on this record. It’s on 80% of this record.
Planet Asia: I can’t wait to start performing these songs.
Speaking of tours, you’ve both been in the underground and primarily in Southern California but aren’t necessarily in the same lane. Do you have two different types of fans?
DJ Muggs: We’re about to see, man! I’m really interested to see the reaction of people and to read the reactions and to read some of the comments and to read some of the reviews and to see the fans’ reactions. I’m kind of wondering. I kind of got an idea what it’s going to be but I still kind of don’t know. I’m interested and excited to see what happens on the release as well.
You have some heavy-hitting guests on Pain Language but it’s primarily DJ Muggs and Planet Asia. How important was that to you guys?
DJ Muggs: The guests are organic. They’re organic guests. It’s everybody we work with from B-Real to Sick Jacken to Killah Priest to Turbin out of Planet Asia’s camp. It’s pretty much my boys and his boys.
Planet Asia: It doesn’t feel like there are a lot of people on the album and that’s the beauty of the album. Some people got more people on their album than them.
DJ Muggs: The thing about it for me was to give Asia a musical style and a musical identity. And then when we did the videos, I didn’t want anybody in the videos but him. He asked me why and I said because I didn’t want anybody focusing on anybody but him. People need to know and understand who the fuck Asia is.
Planet Asia: That’s great. And that’s where his genius comes in.
DJ Muggs: People don’t know who Planet Asia is because he’s rapped on so many different kinds of beats.
Planet Asia: I have fans and they don’t even realize it’s me! As a matter of fact, I was just on a plane coming from Europe and I was having a conversation and I was telling the dude who I was and he worked for G4 TV and I did a freestyle for them and he didn’t even know what I looked like!
DJ Muggs: And that’s what I knew of Asia and we had to cure that. We had to put the focus back on him.
Planet Asia, when I interviewed DJ Muggs a few months ago, he said that you have never made a consistent album from front to back. Is that something you have to prove you can do as an MC?
Planet Asia: Exactly! And with this album, I’m not going to have to prove anything. This album is going to let people know that I’m the nicest, period. I’m sorry, there are no records like this coming out of the West or even the East. Out of the East or West, this shit right here is raw-dog rhyming. Not that Smack DVD battle-rap shit. You can’t even practice this shit. You have to just have been rhyming for a long time and making music for a long time to do shit like this. I feel like after this people will know that I’m the nicest and then we can move on and elevate. But this shit right here, this is my foundation album. And all the other stuff that we did was in preparation for this album right here.
Do you get the respect you deserve as an MC?
Planet Asia: Honestly I get the respect from the MCs. Most of the MCs that are coming up today, they know of Planet Asia. I had a cat call me recently and tell me I was the reason for him rhyming and he’s a current cat. I was like, ‘Wow.’ I didn’t even know that I had an effect on people’s lives like this. But over all I think this album is going to solidify that. This put me right where I needed to be and I got Muggs to validate me by doing a whole album with me because on the West Coast, you had Dr. Dre, DJ Quik and you got Muggs. And that’s it when you talk about platinum albums and if you want me to get real with it, it’s really just Dr. Dre and DJ Muggs as far as having plaques on the wall and for him to come down to my level, it ain’t like he really had to work with me. He’s not doing this for no money or anything. He’s doing that shit because he loves music. He’s not doing that shit because he needs the check. This is straight raw-dog music. So all the people out there complaining that there ain’t no real shit, this is that real shit. There should be no complaints after this.
How did the single “9mm” come together?
Planet Asia: The way that beat sounded made me come up with that type of concept with that type of flow and with that type of hook. I ain’t gonna front, I was in my Cypress chamber on that song a little bit. I was in my Cypress Hill chamber when I did that song. I was channeling that Cypress Hill energy. I ain’t gonna front. This sounds like something Cypress would have done back in the day. I channeled that energy and added Planet Asia to it.
What inspired “Pain Language”?
DJ Muggs: That was a simple-ass beat I was working on. I was just starting it and Asia was like, ‘Leave it like that. Leave it raw like that.’ I asked if he was sure and he said yep. Okay, let’s roll, homie.
Planet Asia: That’s how it came together. That moves me.
DJ Muggs: That shit came together. In two hours I think that was done.
Planet Asia: That’s one of the quicker songs that we did and it takes me some times sometimes to remember my rhymes but I know that shit in and out like it’s nothing. I could perform that song at the drop of a dime.
“Shadows of Hell” wasn’t even supposed to be on the album. How did a song originally not meant for the album and only meant to test the waters make it to the album?
DJ Muggs: The response I got made us put it on the album. I can’t believe how many people like that song. It fucks me up! Sometimes I’ll do some shit and in the back of my mind I’ll be like, ‘Did I go over people’s heads on this and will they be riding with this?’ When I saw all the feedback online and all the comments, it was crazy. It’s one of those songs that if it comes on when we’re performing, we’re going to get a good crowd reaction.
Between that and “That’s What It Is”, it seems like you guys set up fans pretty well for Pain Language with your early leaks.
DJ Muggs: We were able to leak shit out without giving you the whole album. Sometimes you hear 10 of the 14 songs on the album before the album drops. We got 13 fresh joints and it’s all working out according to plan.
Will Pain Language be a success?
DJ Muggs: As far as making the record, yes. Now does “success” mean record sales on that level? Now that’s a whole ‘nother thing. We’re starting on that. We’re campaigning for that now. But us making the record in the studio with the resources that we had, which is zero dollars, yes, I think the record is incredible.
Planet Asia: And I think people should take note of that. We made this album with zero dollars meaning that we made an album our way. You’re not getting albums recorded like that nowadays. You gotta think that these albums that are coming out are investments and when you have somebody investing, they’re going to have a say-so at some point. You’re getting this straight from Muggs and straight from Planet Asia.
Muggs, this is the third album you’ve done with one artist. Do you have any plans for a new album?
DJ Muggs: Yep. I just finished the Soul Assassins EP coming out in January. I don’t want to speak on who I’m doing an album with. And I’m only working with brothers that I click with. I don’t go out looking for people. If our vibe is right and I click with somebody and I know we can work and that we can bang the album out in a month and the brother is serious and he has a fanbase and he can get shows and all that then we can work.
Can I have a vote for who you should work with?
DJ Muggs: Yep. Go ahead.
This isn’t the first time I’ve told you this but I would love to hear you and Killah Priest record a project together.
DJ Muggs: It would never happen! Killah Priest got invited to the studio three times and never called and said he wasn’t going to make it! That’s what I mean about work ethic and I love Priest and I’m a fan and he’s the shit but there you go, you should have showed up before. I can’t chase you down, holmes. I can’t want this shit more than you.
Planet Asia: See, I’m not crazy. I’m like, ‘Fuck that, that’s DJ Muggs!’ You don’t know if you can get dudes like that to want to work. You can’t get dudes who haven’t sold as many records as DJ Muggs to work. If you want to work with me, tell me when to stop!
DJ Muggs: I want brothers to be there before I get there and want to stay there longer than me. That’s where I am at this point in my career right now and in my life. You have to want that shit, man. You have to inspire me to want to work with you. I can’t be calling you and asking you where you are. I’m cool, dude.
Planet Asia: There’s a lot of cats that I could have worked with but they say one thing and do another. I keep it moving. There are plenty of opportunities that I had but cats don’t be on the same page, man. You have to work to get somewhere. You ain’t gonna get stacked overnight. You have to do sit-ups, pull-ups and dips.
DJ Muggs: You know what a lot of these artists need to do? They need to go and get a job instead of rapping and complaining that they’re broke. Go and get a job and rap on the side. A lot of these dudes don’t even want to work.
Planet Asia: A lot of these dudes look at rap as work and once you do that you’re going to be in some bullshit. I haven’t had a job in 10 years but I know the science to making money in this shit. A lot of cats think they can get rich overnight. First of all you have to live off this shit. Everybody got the game fucked up. I ain’t never went platinum but I don’t have a fucking 9-5. I’m not really tripping like that. And I have my days too but that shit don’t affect my music where I start looking at the game like, ‘I can’t work with you now because there ain’t no money for that shit’ or just go and do an album with somebody who don’t got something and you get some fucked up Soundscan number and they can’t do nothing with you because you got with some bullshit label that couldn’t put their album out there. A lot of dudes be cheating themselves and they don’t have no patience. You have to have some patience in this shit. That’s why I’ve been able to come out with so many records over the years. I don’t sit back and complain. I’ll just go and make me some music. Jigga didn’t pop until he was 30 years-old.
I agree with what you’re both saying. On another note, what’s been going on with Cali Agents?
Planet Asia: This is how hip-hop is. I get paid more off of Cali Agents than anything else. We don’t really have nothing out but you know what? We tour every year in Europe. Every year I’m on the road with Rasco. Every year we tour like it’s 1997. I just came back from Europe yesterday.
Planet Asia: (continues) People say there ain’t no money in hip-hop but I don’t know what hip-hop they’re dealing with because if my ass can get money off of hip-hop and I’m not on BET every day, I think the dude that’s complaining and that does have a video on BET, he just has a fucked up business sense. If a Planet Asia video was on BET and MTV every day, I would be able to capitalize off of that shit. Trust me. And a lot of dudes have had a lot of chances out here and I’m looking at them like how can you be complaining about money when your shit has been played on Rap City numerous times? They don’t want to go to Europe and they don’t want to see the global economy. They want to stay in their homes. I’m not really popping in France but if you go all the way around the world, it all adds up. Every little thing is a piece of the puzzle. Everything ain’t the end-all and be all. Everybody wants that quick hit. Everybody wants to be a star.
Planet Asia: (continues) You have to count your blessings. I’m happy that I can live off of hip-hop. I get free clothes for this shit. I live in a house. I’m not paying rent. I’m paying a mortgage. I don’t know why these dudes are complaining. That’s how I know there’s a big illusion in hip-hop because I don’t even have the status of some of these dudes and these dudes are struggling. It looks good on TV but in real life these dudes want to go where I’m going. They’ve never seen Italy or Australia.
Why have you been able to succeed when other MCs haven’t?
Planet Asia: Because it’s the performing part of it. A lot of these dudes don’t perform and when they do it’s wack. They lip-sing and they play the CD in the background where you can still hear their vocals. Overseas they take that shit seriously. You’re not going to get more shows over there. You do one fucked up show over there and you’re not going to be able to go back there. That’s why a lot of these dudes aren’t touring – because they suck at it. You can get Zion I, Planet Asia and Murs overseas. Brand Nubian is still touring overseas! I just did a show with Sadat X.
Will you and Muggs tour together?
DJ Muggs: We’re planning it right now. We got shows and we got spot dates and everything will come together when the record comes out.
Will you two be working together in the future?
Planet Asia: Oh yeah. This is just the beginning. I feel like with this I left something that people can remember in history and over time. I feel like that’s something I’ll always be able to pull out of the file book like, ‘Remember this?’ It’s that history. It’s a beautiful history.
Have you started working on your next album?
Planet Asia: Not really. Right now I’m focused more on Pain Language. Anything outside of Pain Language that I’m focused on is my image in the game as far as whether it’s doing a mixtape here or blogging over here. It’s so people can get more into who Planet Asia is.
What’s the craziest thing you guys went through recording Pain Language?
DJ Muggs: I got a pitbull in the studio and every time Asia comes in the studio, man, he’s running in the studio and closing the door real quick so the dog doesn’t bite him and shit! (laughs)
Planet Asia: (laughs) Yo! This motherfucker has a fat-ass pitbull that is just running around and shit. It’s the most coolest and intimidating dog that you will ever see. And his daughter is nowhere near being scared of the dog. She walks up to it and hits it in the face. I see that dog and I’m like, ‘I’m cool!’ (laughs) I start going in another direction.
DJ Muggs: I got fools that come to the studio and the dog has to shit outside and I don’t even pick that up so the people have to walk over the shit! Come on in, homie, just watch your step!
Way to lay down the law.
DJ Muggs: It’s lovely.
But what happens if Sick Jacken comes through and thinks the plumbing is out? Maybe he turns around and you lose a session.
DJ Muggs: (laughs) Oh yeah. The plumbing went out once. Jacken dropped his phone in the toilet one time and I walked in there and there was shit all over. I was like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ The next day the guy comes and he cleans the toilet out and he goes, ‘This is the problem.’ There was a phone in there, homie! Jack dropped his phone in the toilet.
And then he flushed it?
DJ Muggs: He didn’t even know. He was so drunk and then he was like, ‘Where’s my phone? I can’t find my phone nowhere?’ We found your phone, homie. It was swimming with the turds.
Please tell me he didn’t just wipe it off and hoped it would still work.
DJ Muggs: Oh, it was over! He had to start over. It got stuck in the flush. It was stuck in the toilet. There was a lot of shit going on in that phone.
That takes talking dirty to another level.
DJ Muggs and Planet Asia: (both laugh) (really)
DJ Muggs: Now that’s some shit.