Rigz – “Gold” review

Rigz is a 30 year old MC from Rochester, New York who came up as a member of Da Cloth. He eventually broke out solo in 2017 off his debut EP Calculated & then the debut mixtape I Got Samples, which was followed up with a sequel tape & then his 2nd EP A Piece of the Action. However, Rigz’ popularity began to grow in 2019 off his Chup-produced 3rd mixtape Roach Gutta Slums & then the Big Ghost Ltd. produced collab effort with fellow Cloth member Mooch called The Only Way Out. Then he brought in Futurewave to produce his full-length debut Substance Abuse to universal acclaim & now after coming fresh off the sophomore effort Wake Ups that came out over the summer, DJ Muggs is coming in the picture to produce Rigz’ highly anticipated 3rd album.

After the “Gold Standard” intro, the title track with Mooch sets off the whole album by talking about how all they need is a brick over a morbid instrumental whereas “Every Season” with Rob Gates finds the pair on some spectral boom bap shit going at those who’re only tough in their heads. “Supreme” weaves in some keyboards & dusty drums talking about keeping 10 toes down just before Meyhem Lauren tags along for gritty drug dealer’s anthem “Cook Off”. Meanwhile on “What We Got”, we have Rigz on top of a beat kin to Wu-Tang Forever era RZA just giving the listeners who he is leading into the Rome Streetz-assisted “Heads on the Wall” talking about keeping their foots on cats’ necks on top of some luxurious piano chords & sputtering drums.

Mooch returns for the bare soul sample-laced “Where Ya Soul At?” speaking on turning the streets to their home, but then “Fool’s Gold” works in an enticing vocal loop going into battle rap territory. “24 Karats” goes back into drumless turf expressing his desire for a fortune while Big Twins comes into the picture for the forlorn “We Want In” talking about riding for their respective cliques.

The guitars on “Eastside Blues” are a nice change of pace sonically reminding that you can’t change where you came from & they carry their way over to “Crack the Code”, where Times Change jumps in to talk about how masterful they are. After the “Balance” interlude, the final “Never Met a Real Gangsta” with M.A.V. sees the 2 on top of some strings telling listeners all the G’s they know wound up not wanting be involved with crime anymore & then “The Culture” ends it with a spoken word piece.

It’s been a long time coming & I’m glad it finally came because this would be an excellent entry point for those who’re aren’t already familiar with Rigz or Da Cloth as a whole really. He continues to reveal himself as the sharpest lyricist of the crew even though I got love for all the members & Muggs’ production is as equally superb as Futurewave’s was on Substance Abuse a little over a year back.

Score: 4.5/5

DJ Muggs – “Winter 2” review

DJ Muggs is a 53 year old producer & DJ from Queens, New York who came up as part of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin Brothers in the late 80s. The trio only put out 1 album together but as the 90s approached, Muggs started to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins. He would go on to release 4 solo efforts & after dominating 2021 by fully producing projects like Death & the Magician or Cartagena, Muggs is returning for a Winter sequel given that the 1-year anniversary of that album is coming up next month.

After the “Winter 2 Theme” intro, the first song “Beaming Hi” by RLX is a symphonic opener spitting the fly lifestyle he’s living these days whereas “Absolem Reprise” by Roc Marciano takes a dusty boom bap route talking about being prone to kill it. “All White Party” by Meyhem Lauren fuses together some keyboards & punchy drums spitting that they gotta kill him to take his spot leading into RLX returning for the jazzy yet drumless “Have a Bad Day” hoping that on those who get in his face.

Meanwhile on “L.A. County”, we have T.F. coming into the picture ominously detailing his life as a Crip just before “Panoramic Sunroof” by Crimeapple keeps the boom bap vibes going detailing his mind moving as fast as the drugs he’s pushing. “God Killa” by Rigz has a bit of an Italian flare to the instrumental talking about killing motherfuckers’ egos, but then “Father Time” by Ill Bill takes a dark electronic approach expressing his desire to chop bodies up.

“More Fire” by Hologram weaves in some heavenly vocals throughout saying you can’t ruin his game while the vibraphone-heavy “Absolem Reprise, Pt. 2” by Roc Marciano perfectly picks up right where the predecessor left off lyrically. The final song “It’s Over” by RLX mixes a guitar & an organ talking about the title he earned from his gusto, but “Winter Black Ice” finishes the album off with an instrumental piece similar to the intro.

Overall, I think this is a worthy sequel to round out such a prolific year in Muggs’ career. I like how he gives a couple of the guest MCs more shine rather than just giving them 1 joint each as well as the diversity of sound throughout.

Score: 3.5/5

Crimeapple – “Cartagena” review

Crimeapple is a 35 year old MC from Hackensack, New Jersey who came onto my radar in the fall of 2017 with his 4th EP Sweet Dreams along with his Big Ghost Ltd. produced full-length debut Aguardiente that following spring. His profile began to grow after dropping the DJ Skizz-produced Wet Dirt & the DJ Muggs-produced Medallo the next year, but his output since then has been either hit or miss with me personally. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to hear that he was re-enlisting Muggs for his 7th album right here.

“Grey Skies” is a glorious opener about him waking up feeling unstoppable whereas “Bathtubs Full of Veuve” takes things into boom bap turf spitting that fly shit. “Tony 2C” goes into a drearier direction reminding us he got that dope on demand leading into Stove God Cook$ tagging along for the battle rap piano ballad “Mermaids”.

“Meanwhile on “Papas”, we have Crimeapple jumping on top of a Daringer-inspired boom bap instrumental talking about getting a bag just before “Cheap Work” has a bit of a dark industrial sound letting us know he’s in that getting money stage. “Designer Label” has an unsettling atmosphere in the production detailing how it is from the cradle to the grave back to the cradle, but then “Reputation” has a more celebratory vibe saying he don’t care about the bullshit.

“Some More Paper” has some chilling organ harmonies confessing that’s all he really needs at this point whereas “Kleenex” brings in a guitar saying he’s been to shit since seeing TGIF on Fridays. The song “Swish” continues the rock vibes proclaiming the throne to the rap game while the penultimate track “Peligrosisimo” grimily flexes his Spanish. “Fly Shit” with RLX then ends the album by going at those who envy them.

From the moment Muggs initially announced Cartagena, I knew he was gonna give Crime what his last couple projects have been lacking & am more than satisfied with the end results. He’s been one of the nicest lyricists to come out of New Jersey in recent memory & that hasn’t changed at all, but the production on here in comparison is like night & day.

Score: 4.5/5

Hologram – “American Cheese” review

Hologram is a 36 year old MC from New York who came up as a part of The Outdoorsmen collective alongside his older brother Meyhem Lauren & Action Bronson under the original moniker Jay Steele. He’s been featured on a plethora of the latter 2’s projects in the past such as Bon Appetit……Bitch! & Gems from the Equinox, but is finally being treated to a full-length debut of his produced entirely by none other than Cypress Hill’s very own DJ Muggs.

After the intro, “No Off Season” is a hair-raising opener saying he always keeps the heat on him because he’s so cold whereas “Don’t Ride with the Drugs” enlists Action Bronson is a luxurious boom bap cut about thinking like a G. The title track is a rock-flavored cut saying the limit’s the sky but he’s gonna go higher just before the murky, self explanatory “Smoke Weed & Figure Shit Out”.

Meanwhile on “You Know My Name”, we have Hologram bragging on top of a cinematic instrumental leading into him saying if the gun ain’t on him it’s around him with the bell-heavy “Black”. He later tells his detractors their out their mind on the jazz-infused “Duck & Cover”, but then “808” is a 1-minute trap banger getting on his hustler shit.

“S.T.F.U. (Shut The Fuck Up)” works in a slowed down vocal sample for him to say he hustles for a sense of urgency & paper while “Moon Rocks” with Big Twins & Meyhem Lauren finds the trio proclaiming themselves as them front row cats over a lurid boom bap beat. Meyhem sticks around as he, Bronson & Hologram talk about wearing black on the gruesome “Colors” just before the brothers jump on the bleak “P.C.H.” by themselves to speak on smoking a couple pounds & hitting up Malibu.

The penultimate track “Traditional Bull Shark” brings in an organ & a guitar telling us he goes through life imitating art, but then “Murder at 5” finds Meyhem Lauren coming back into the picture to end the album by letting us know they’ll be counting money ‘til their hands break & I really dig the forlorn tone that the instrumental gives off.

If anyone out there is a fan of Meyhem, then you definitely gotta check out American Cheese because his lil bro Hologram proves that he can hold down an album of his own. His songwriting is at it’s best & the sounds Muggs goes for is a healthy variety ranging from boom bap to rap rock.

Score: 4/5

Yelawolf – “Mile 0” review

Yelawolf is a 41 year old rapper, singer, songwriter, fashion designer & entrepreneur from Gassen, Alabama coming up on the scene as a contender on The Road to Stardom in 2005. His debut album Creekwater that same year, but didn’t catch the mainstream’s attention until New Year’s Day 2010 off the strength of his 4th mixtape Trunk Muzik. This caught the attention of Detroit icon Eminem, who signed Catfish Billy to his Interscope Records imprint Shady Records the following year. Yelawolf went on to release 4 albums under his contract with Slim, leaving in Spring 2019 to focus on continuing to build his own label Slumerican Records. Dude’s been staying busy all month by dropping a project damn near each week & to come fresh off his latest EP Slumafia produced entirely by DJ Paul, we’re being treated to another EP produced entirely by DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill fame.

“W.T.F. (What the Fuck?)” kicks the whole thing off by Yelawolf depicting his seriousness on top of an string-laced boom bap beat & the next song “Geeyat Damnit” recaptures that sound except with a piano being weaved in as he spits about how he’s “getting it”. B-Real hops aboard the cavernous, money-stacking anthem “Hand Over Fist” in a natural fashion before diving into the cinematic, rags-to-riches story “Harvest” featuring Struggle Jennings.

“The Catch” is a breezy, romantic boom bap track while Caskey of course joins Catfish Billy for the rich tribute to success that is “Matador”. The song “Flea Market” with Bub Styles is oxymoron giving that they’re rapping about keeping it g over a peaceful instrumental, but then longtime collaborator DJ Paul jumps on the mic accompanied by Del the Funky Homosapien of all people come together to talk about desired-reclusiveness for the spacey yet jazzy “Privacy”. As for the closer “Dust Broom”, I do appreciate it’s wretched tone despite Christian Rose & Sam Lee having the weakest features on the whole project.

Of all the projects Yelawolf has dropped in 2021 so far, I genuinely don’t know if anything can top Mile 0. Everything about it is a welcoming detour from what you’d expect from him in terms of his wise lyrics & the lo-fi sound DJ Muggs shoots for. Will I be proven wrong when Mud Mouth drops next Friday? Find out next time on Dragon Ball Z.

Score: 4/5

Flee Lord – “RAMM£LLZ££” review

This is the 15th EP from Queensbridge emcee Flee Lord. Blowing up in 2017 off his debut EP Loyalty or Death: Lord Talk & it’s 2018 sequel, the Prodigy protege continued to grow from there by dropping subsequent projects like Gets Greater Later & Loyalty & Trust. But after dropping every month last year (the most notable ones being Hand Me My Flowers as well as The People’s Champ & In the Name of Prodigy), Flee is teaming up with DJ Muggs to drop RAMM£LLZ££.

The titular intro is a cool little skit that I had expected going in, but then the first song “Eating Never Stressing” talks about how your life will be great if you work as hard as him over a bare organ loop. The next track “SA Mobbin’” talks about holding his block down over a doleful piano instrumental while the song “Driver’s Seat” pays tribute to Capone-N-N.O.R.E. over a misty boom bap beat.

The track “Wallabies & Gucci Loafers” with Ghostface Kilah & Roc Marciano finds the trio on their fly shit over a soul-tinged instrumental while the song “Mansions in the Ghetto” with Crimeapple sees the 2 talking about giving back to their people over some guitar-picking & horns. The track “45 in My Pocket” talks about how going back to the hood is stressful for him over a rich boom bap instrumental while the song “Daleon & Delgado” with TF finds the duo talking about shooting rounds at the sky over a beat kin to Daringer.

“The Equation” talks about hoping people follow his path when he’s gone over a deranged instrumental & while the penultimate track “Queens Get the $$$” with Meyhem Lauren sees the 2 talking about all being psychos over a boom bap beat with some rapid piano-playing throughout. The titular outro talks about going from having bad to making good paper over a sample of “I’m Alive” by Johnny Thunder.

Even though 2020 was the Year of the Lord, it’s starting to look like 2021 will be the Year of Muggs because this is a damn near perfect EP. Death & the Magician is still my Album of the Year as of me writing this review, but RAMM£LLZ££ is just as enjoyable because both parties manage to bring their A-game on here lyrically & sonically.

Score: 4.5/5

DJ Muggs – “Dies Occidendum” review

This is a brand new collection of beats from Queens-born albeit California based producer, deejay & audio engineer DJ Muggs. Coming up as 1/3 of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin brothers in the late 80s, it would later go to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins collective. The Black Goat also has 3 solo albums under his belt, the latest being Winter just 3 months ago. However after lacing Rome Streetz’ latest album Death & the Magician to universal acclaim just a couple weeks ago, Muggs is continuing to stay busy by dropping Dies Occidendum.

The opener “Incantation” pretty much sets the tone for the album as it has an eerie, cavernous tone to it while the next track “The Chosen One” goes into a more trap/witch house direction & I really just can’t get enough of how evil the atmosphere of it is. “Nigrum Mortem” has a more distorted tone as it incorporates the sound of organs & guitars while the “Liber Null” instrumental feels like a wild rollercoaster with it’s multiple switch-ups throughout it’s 4 minute run. “Alphabet of Desire” has a more melancholic vibe in comparison to the previous cuts while the “Subconscious” instrumental goes into an industrial direction with hi-hats firing off like a minigun.

“Veni Vidi Amavi” is easily the most chilled out track of the bunch with it’s smokey atmosphere while the “Anointed” instrumental goes back into that trap sound except it contains these ghostly shrills throughout. The penultimate track “Anicca” starts with some dramatic string melodies, but then things get quiet for about 30 seconds until the bass & hi-hats hit & then the closer “Transmogrification” is dominated by cricket noises for a good bulk of it’s 5-minute runtime with the exception of some mystical-like harmonies during the first minute as well as the sounds of something burning during the last minute & a half.

I know we’re not even finished with the first quarter of 2021, but goddamn is Muggs on a roll right now. Death & the Magician is still very much my album of the year so far, but these are some of the darkest collection of sounds he’s put together in a while & is highly recommended to any Cypress Hill fan.

Score: 4/5

Rome Streetz – “Death & the Magician” review

Rome Streetz is a 34 year old MC from New York who broke out in 2016 off his debut mixtape I Been Thru Mad Shit. This was followed up by a plethora of projects, most notably the Noise Kandy tetralogy & Headcrack. He just dropped a dope project with Farma Beats on his birthday a few months back called Kontraband but as we close out the 2nd month of 2021, Rome is dropping his 5th full-length album produced entirely by DJ Muggs.

After the “6 of Cups” intro, the first song “Prayers Over Packages” talks about never slacking off over an otherworldly beat whereas the next track “Ace of Swords” talks about getting pieces to the puzzle over a gully instrumental. “The Manuscript” talks about his mind being focused on the money over a glum beat while the song “High Explosive” compares himself to a bomb over some horns.

The track “Zig Zag Zig” with Knowledge the Pirate finds the 2 talking about putting bitches in their place over a violin-tinged beat while the song “Stone Cold Soul” talks about clapping shit over a macabre instrumental. “The Devil’s Chord” talks about how the nights where he had nothing we’re eating him up inside over some ghoulish keyboard melodies & the sound of winds gusting by while the track “Shooting at the Dance Hall” gets on some disrespectful shit lyrically on top of a native-flavored beat for lack of a better term.

The song “Wheel of Fortune” talks about moving in silence over a Bollywood style instrumental while the track “Horn & Halo” with Rigz sees the duo talking about being conflicted since birth over a guitar & some eerie background vocals. The closer “Fly Obnoxious” talks about going all out for his rep over an malevolent boom bap beat & then the bonus cut “Fuck You Know About Me?” talks about preferring fetti over fame over some jazzy horns.

I’ve always said that Headcrack is Rome’s magnum opus, but Death & the Magician is even better. The way he continues to put words together (especially multi-syllable rhyme patterns) is like no other & it’s really cool to hear Muggs providing a wide range of sounds for him.

Score: 4.5/5

DJ Muggs – “Winter” review

DJ Muggs is a 52 year old producer & DJ from Queens, New York who came up as part of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin Brothers in the late 80s. The trio only put out 1 album together but as the 90s approached, Muggs started to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins. He would go on to release 2 solo albums & with the 8 year anniversary of his previous one Bass for Your Face approaches next month, Muggs is finally delivering a follow-up.

After the “Winter is Here” intro, the first song “Warning Shots” by Boldy James talks about swimming or sinking over a creepy-sounding beat whereas the next track “Olympic Stamps” by Cappadonna talks about how his crew rolls thick comes together over a rowdy instrumental. The song “Japanese Space Program” by RLX talks about wanting all the riches over an operatic beat while the track “Food on My Fork” by Rome Streetz shouts out those who think they can go toe-to-toe with him over a rock-flavored instrumental.

The song “Veneno” by Crimeapple, Eto & Meyhem Lauren sees the 3 talking about that fly shit over a minimalist beat while the penultimate track “Resume” by Hologram talks about how they wanted him dead 10 years ago over a sinister instrumental. The closer “Roll the Credits” by al.divino talks about how listeners already know what the deal is over a cinematic beat whereas the bonus cut “Winter’s Theme in DM” is an instrumental piece that you can just sit back & smoke a bowl to.

As a whole, this album is solid & I would absolutely recommend it if anyone loves Muggs as I do. He could’ve added a few more joints & stretch it out longer than just 25 minutes, but his production is still very much top notch all these decades later & the guest MCs he brings on board come correct for the most part.

Score: 3.5/5

al.divino – “Kilogram” review

al.divino is a 26 year old MC/producer from Massachusetts that I’ve been following for a couple of years now. Dude’s been steadily dropping projects since 2015, with the last one being the Futurewave-produced Kataklizm this past summer. But to continue his grind, al.divino is enlisting the West Coast veteran DJ Muggs himself to drop Kilogram exclusively on the Soul Assassins website.

The album kicks off with “Jansport”, where al.divino talks about that pusher life over a horn loop. The next track “Money on Ya Head” talks about putting hits out over a sinister beat while the song “Streets Still” tells the listener to give him his respect & talks about those who tried to count him out over a psychedelic sample. The title track gets reckless over by a grungy guitar loop while the song “Jabba Jaws” with Estee Nack sees the 2 talking about turning dudes into mince meat over spooky boom bap beat.

The track “Mr. Dynamite” gets back on the drug dealer tip over an eerie instrumental while the song “Landslide” talks about his crew be winning over a boom bap beat with some dramatic string sections. After the “Wildstyle” interlude, the track “Larry Davis” talks about how no one can fuck with him over an intimidating instrumental while the song “Oven” with RLX sees the 2 getting mafioso over a bewitching beat. The album ends with “Singapore”, where al.divino talks about his shooters over a foreboding instrumental.

As much as I highly enjoyed Kataklizm, I think al.divino really outdid himself on this new album over here. Probably his best work to date in my opinion. His presence on the mic is at it’s most ferocious & DJ Muggs’ signature sound meshes in with al.divino’s relentless lyricism very well.

Score: 4.5/5