Muggs / Soul Assassins

Intermission

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The production talent behind Cypress Hill, one of hip-hop's distinctive enduring crews, DJ Muggs has earned his stripes as a versatile beatsmith, working with a wide variety of artists from the East, West, and beyond over the years, as well as mentoring two of the next generation's best producers (the Alchemist and Evidence). Throughout the first half of the 2000s, Muggs went largely unnoticed until dropping the critically acclaimed Grandmasters collaboration with Wu-Tang's the GZA in 2005. Since then, the producer has stayed on his grind, releasing quality underground albums with Planet Asia and Sick Jacken of the Psycho Realm as well as a departure effort with R&B singer Dust. With his first album under the Soul Assassins brand name in nine years, Muggs once again recruits a gang of his favorite vocalists (including all three of the aforementioned collaborators as well as the man who's undoubtedly blessed more Muggs beats than anyone, B Real) to do their best over his recent studio concoctions. While many of the tracks are cohesive enough conceptually (such as the compellingly apocalyptic hard-rock-inspired Self Scientific effort "Good Evening LA"; the "Champions" remix, which pairs two Queensbridge heavweights, Prodigy and Big Twins; and Muggs' undeniably ill take on Dirty South funk, "Gangsta Shit," featuring Bun B and M1 of Dead Prez), some of them simply fall flat -- see the conspiracy theory-themed "Meet Your Maker," which teams two Philly acts, Reef the Lost Cauze and Outer Space, and the plodding La Coka Nostra contribution "Do It." For the most part, Muggs' beats are stellar, but not enough of them are aptly adjusted to the MCs spitting over them. The title track is symbolic of the album as a whole: four wholly capable but totally different rappers, the RZA, Rev. William Burk, Planet Asia, and B Real, appear over a quintessential Muggs headnodder for no apparent reason. All things considered, Intermission comes in third among the three Soul Assassins albums to date but, as to be expected with any exercise under the SA moniker, the LP provides a showcase for some of the best hardcore artists out there doing their thing over Muggs' signature sinister beatscapes.

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