I’m doing good, man. I think I’m still drunk from last night.
You and DJ Muggs just got back from touring Europe. How did that go for you guys?
Overseas is incredible, man. I love going to Europe because they allow you to be an artist. They’re like Latin America, but they buy records. They don’t follow trends like over here. They allow you to express yourself. It’s crazy.
Are you getting the response you wanted from The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin, which was produced entirely by DJ Muggs?
Yeah. It’s exactly what I expected. People aren’t used to albums anymore. They’re used to singles and ringtones, but the people that do get it are fucking loving it.
It’s a very spiritual and introspective album. How important was that element to you to have on The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin?
Well, when we sat down to record the record, the concept we had for the record was that we wanted to do something different from what we do normally. All of our Psycho Realm records are concept albums, but we wanted to do something differently. We wanted to create a masterpiece. When we sat down to discuss the record, we were like, ‘We have to do something crazy.’ Muggs started pulling out old rock records like Zeppelin records. He was like, ‘We have to do this and we have to do that,’ and I was like, ‘I want to tell a story and create a surreal environment.’ The title came from that and from the ideas that we had. You can’t go nowhere else but where we went.
Did you accomplish what you wanted to on The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin?
Yeah. I think I went beyond what I wanted to do.
What do DJ Muggs’ beats bring out of you?
Muggs is a legend himself. The dude is a sensei. So to be able to be in Muggs’ studio and pick out beats…I produce all of the Psycho Realm shit, so I know whenever you get a beat, it brings ideas out of you and it brings a mood out of you. It makes you want to talk about certain shit, depending on what the beat is. For me to go through Muggs’ library and have him play me new shit and ask me what I thought about it, then you write to it and he starts producing it and arranging it around, it’s just a good experience. It was great.
What kind of beats did you want for The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin?
Of course I wanted some dark, raw fucking hip-hop shit, but I wanted the beats to take me to that surreal fucking environment. And I think that’s exactly what it did. I got the chance to pick the beats out and I was able to pick out the best ones for me.
You talk about your brother and Psycho Realm rhyme partner Duke’s tragic shooting on “Man of Shadows.” Was that a difficult track for you to write?
When my brother got shot, I didn’t talk about those thoughts and feelings for a little bit. You want to talk about it and you want to write about it. I don’t think it was difficult to do. It’s what you have to do. “Man of Shadows” is a song about purgatory. When my brother got shot and when he came to and snapped out of it, he realized the situation that he was in and I remember myself asking him, “What did you see?” because he arrived at the hospital and he died on the surgery table a couple of times. I asked him if he saw anything like the light and he was like, ‘I didn’t see shit.’ That always fucked with me. I don’t know if it was a fucking theory or a religious theory about how you see the light and you walk towards God or you just fucking die and the energy of your spirit just trickles down to the earth. It’s that question that everybody asks.
How’s Duke doing today?
My brother got shot in 1999 and we had enough material to put out two records, A War Story Book I and A War Story Book II. Psycho Realm is pretty much at a standstill. He puts the “Psycho” in “Psycho Realm.” Without him, it ain’t the Psycho Realm. I did the album with Muggs and a mixtape with Cynic. I got backing from Universal. I’m trying to find something to do because I can’t do Psycho Realm right now. My brother is working on his situation. He’s trying to get his vocal ability back so he can get in the studio and record some shit. If Curtis Mayfield could do it singing on his back from the hospital bed, then you know my brother can do it. He’s been working real hard to try to bring that shit back.
How hard is it for you to watch him go through his struggles?
It was hard in the beginning and it fucking shattered me. It drove me to one of the darkest periods of my life, but to see what he does is very fucking inspiring. My brother is a fucking warrior, dog. His will to live and to do shit is fucking incredible, bro. I got so much fucking respect for that dude.
How much does Duke inspire your solo material?
Everything that we do and everything that we’ve ever done as Psycho Realm was done as brothers. We try to make good music. We’ve always stayed away from what everybody else is doing. I try to uphold that legacy. People have come to expect that shit. Everything that I do, I try to make it and keep it at that level. That’s why if you listen to my old album and my new album, lyrically and delivery-wise, my shit has improved so much because I have to try and fill that void. So everything that I do is out of respect for what me and him did. I’m always going to think of that shit so that the Psycho Realm name stays alive so that my brother can feed his daughter and his old lady.
How close is Duke to being able to rhyme again?
I’m no psychic. Only time will tell. He says he’s right around the corner from it. He tells the fans and he says in interviews that he has something up his sleeve. All I can do is back him up. I think my brother’s will to fucking live and to fucking do shit is incredible and I wouldn’t doubt it if I’m in the studio next year with homeboy, just knocking out tracks. Since he hasn’t been able to rap, he redirected his energy to making beats and his beats are fucking crazy. They’re out of control, bro.
What inspired the dark, apocalyptic “2012”?
“2012” is about the end of days. People think the world is going to end. We wanted to pretty much make a song about that since 2012 is just around the corner and motherfuckers are still acting like knuckleheads and getting locked up. We wanted to pretty much put it in perspective. If shit really does go down in 2012, what are you guys doing? You guys are still out here fucking up and fucking around. Get your shit together. We just wanted to put it in perspective. 2012 is five years away. We just wanted to put it into perspective. Get your shit together.
You also included a bibliography in the liner notes. How come?
Because when people research what we talked about, it provides a whole new experience. It makes the song more real. When people go and read about something, they’ll come back and listen to the songs and they’ll be like, ‘Damn!’ At the same time, we’re providing that surreal environment. The basis of that whole storyline is real. Whether it’s conspiracy theory or believed to be real, the foundation is real. We wanted to give people the opportunity to tap into that.
Cynic is featured throughout The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin. What did he add to the album?
Cynic’s my boy. He’s crew. I wanted to bring him in to get him exposure because I think the motherfucker is dope, lyrically. He brought ideas and he brought concepts. He brought his knowledge to the table. He brought his delivery and his rhymes and I think the dude just added to the record. Cynic’s into knowledge. He studies a lot. I wanted to put him on there to put him out there, but at the end of the day, I think he added a lot to the record, whether it was a concept, chorus or verse. Whatever it was that he did, I think that homeboy added to the record.
There’s a lot going on on the album cover. Can you describe?
The album cover is pretty much a reflection of the songs. You have the Assassin army and the Mask army and the reptilian president at the bottom of the pyramid You have the All-Seeing Eye, angels coming up and UFOs in the sky. It tells a story of what the record is going to be. We told the artists what we wanted and they sketched it up for us.
Psycho Realm and Cypress Hill have always been closely related. Has this album been a long time coming?
You know what? I’ve known Muggs since I met B-Real in ’93. I’ve known Muggs since ’93 or ’94. Everything is timing, dog. If I would have done a record with Muggs 6 years ago or 2 years ago, it wouldn’t have been the same record. Everything is timing. When it was time for us to do a record, it happened.
Do you remember your first meeting with Muggs?
I think we were recording in B-Real’s studio and he came down and met with us. My DJ started fucking with Muggs and they started working together on some shit. It was dope, man.
Do you still produce today?
I kind of fell away from it a little bit. I put my writing cap on and I’ve been working on my MC shit, but once I set my equipment up and I start working on beats again, hopefully I can come up with some new shit.
In your opinion, is the L.A. underground where it needs to be today?
I think anything underground is dope, because when you’re underground, it means that you’re not participating in the industry and in the trends. Anything underground, I got respect for. Motherfuckers have to survive the underground and have something going on. I think the underground is always going to crack. I’m a part of the underground and a lot of people won’t consider me underground. I’m street and I do whatever it is I want to do. I think the L.A. underground is dope.
Does Psycho Realm get the respect it deserves today?
You know what? We made it a point to stay out of the industry and we made it a point to create our own little scene and the price they you pay for doing that is not being a part of the scene. So when people talk about MCs and when people talk about hip-hop groups, we’re not included in those conversations. So it’s the price that we pay. The price that we pay for being original is the price that we pay for staying out of the loop. But the benefit to that is that our music is timeless. We recorded A War Story Book II in 1999 and put it out in 2003 and no one could tell. You couldn’t compare our music to anything that was current back then. It gives us the ability to sound fresh whenever we put shit out. Psycho Realm is not going to be in those conversations, but we’ll be around in 50-60 years. The same way The Doors exist today is the same way I hope that we exist in the future. I’m hoping that that’s the case. I think me and my brother created something special, man. The Doors didn’t get no radio play in the ‘60s. They didn’t get no love and look at them now. They’re heard now more than those bubblegum pop groups from back then. We don’t get no radio love, but our CDs get passed down to the kids and our fans keep getting younger and younger. I’m a little brother, so it’s like the little brother stealing the Led Zeppelin tape from his older brother and then their shit gets passed on down through the decades. I think that’s what’s happening with our shit. Our merchandise is real big, but we have to create a clothing line for the kids because there are so many fucking kids that listen to our shit now.
What does it mean to you when an artist tells you that you inspired them?
It’s flattering. It’s very flattering. The reason I got into rapping was because my homeboy heard a record with a Spanish dude from Miami and I was like, ‘We can do better than this dude.’ He was rapping in Spanish. We started rapping when we were 13 and started performing when we were 14.
Is it easier for you to rap in Spanish or English?
It doesn’t matter because I’m fluent in both. I think I mastered the English language a little more. It’s about patterns and it’s pretty much the same shit.
Are you happy with how the Sick Symphonies project did a year ago?
Yeah. We got promotion through Image. It was just a record that we did with Street Platoon, which is Cynic and Crow. They’ve been helping me out onstage since my brother got shot. It made sense to do an album together. That was something that we put out and I think we got a good record.
Are you working on a new Street Platoon project?
Yes. Street Platoon is currently working on developing a new record, so they’re getting all of the music and concepts together. You will hopefully hear a Street Platoon album in 2008.
What do you want fans to take away from The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin?
I want people to walk away from that record with a good musical experience. I want them to pop it in and play it and experience the whole album. There aren’t too many motherfuckers that make albums musically. They’re just rapping over beats and that’s cool, but this lets us be original. I just want people to walk away from the record with the four elements the same way people walked away from hip-hop in the ‘90s or how people listened to rock in the ‘60s.
What are your goals for The Legend of the Mask and the Assassin?
Being that the album came out on my record label and was distributed through Universal, my goal right now is to sell as many records as possible and to make it a success. I didn’t peak. My records from ’97 are still selling. I don’t expect to sell a million copies in the first week, but through the years I just hope that people hear it and that people enjoy it. My goal is to put it out there and let the people enjoy it because I didn’t record that shit for nothing.
What are your other plans for your label Rebel Music Group?
At this point, it’s pretty much to blow the label up. I want it to be a home for MCs and groups like mine that don’t necessarily do commercial shit but sell records, have a street following and tour the world. I want to do it like Rawkus did. They put shit out in the underground that was hot. I want to make R.M.G. that.
What’s going to be your focus for the next few months?
Promotion. Any show I can get, I’m taking it. We don’t have any radio or video love. For the next couple of months I’ll be touring and promoting the record. I’ll be developing marketing plans and trying to execute it with my label. We’re trying to get this shit out there.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I want to thank all of the fans for their incredible-ass support. I want to thank everybody. A lot of artists aren’t going to get the support that we get. I want to thank everybody. We’re thankful for every fan that we get. You can find me online. We appreciate the support.