Review of Bass For Your Face Album by DJ Muggs

Little did he probably expect it at the time, but as part of Cypress Hill, DJ Muggs was almost certainly responsible for one of the most infamous opening lines of a 90s rap album: the woozy sentiment of I Wanna Get High (So high...) simultaneously announced that the stoner generation had a new anthem and that grunge had passed into the background as the risqué American teen music of choice.

DJ Muggs Bass For Your Face Album

Muggs - born Lawrence Muggerlud - went on along with his 'Hill colleagues to shift more than 5 million albums during that decade, one in which hip hop finally crossed over into the mainstream and moral guardians were unceremoniously kicked into the long grass. He later went on to form the Soul Assassins whilst remaining a workaholic producer, but despite it's highly unoriginal title, Bass For Your Face marks something of a watershed for the veteran, a man whose CV includes the credit for House of Pain's near ubiquitous Jump Around.

The great leap forward here is that whilst much of his early work was created on primitive analogue set ups that even included four track tapes, this new album has seen him cross over into the digital age. The differences are vast - one being that the formerly laborious process of gathering samples from vinyl is now done with the aid of catalogued packs - but as proof that it's attitude which keeps the old dog in front of the game, his recent interviews have found him very open to the possibilities that this shift has provided, a boon to an artist known for constantly seeking out the new techniques and tricks.

As you can imagine, there are enough twerk-inspired work-outs here to annoy both parents and flatmates alike, ranging from the bombastic Freddie Gibbs inspired Track Assassin, through the archive rave whoops of London to Absolem's nightmarish mix of white noise flash and cruel, dead-eyed beats. Lovers of niche listening had better think twice though, as although this is a record that's happy to live down to the perceptions of its critics, there's still plenty of other less obvious vectors that Muggs is happy to pursue.

Clearly recognising the low boredom threshold of some of his potential audience, he makes the journey more interesting by throwing up the ghostly, psychosis-riddled ska of Deep Purple, before the first of Belle Humble's two vocal contributions on Safe takes on Major "Diplo" Lazer in his own tech-pop backyard, with a photo finish needed to decide the winner. It's this big up to pop that delivers the real gob-smackery - one further sketched out on the so 2013 Unknown - but we're nothing if not parochial here and the champagne moment is owned by none other than our own Dizzee Rascal on Snap Your Neck Back, a piece on which he adds some mid-noughties spitting to remind everyone of his less salubrious roots.

Perhaps the most surprising thing of all about Bass For Your Face - particularly when you consider its producer is from rap's breakthrough generation - is the nod to UK grime it sends, the fusion of dub and feral, lo-tech bleeps and breaks that it uses to sound fresh. Ok, so there's still a whiff of modified Citroen Saxo donuting in the car park of your local Costcutter about the whole thing, but with DJ Muggs willing to keep learning his trade exponentially like some crazy hip hop Neo, for one of the old skool's true professors, the sky's still the limit.

Andy Peterson

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