2 September, 2010@2:15 am
DJ Muggs was notably absent from Cypress Hill’s Rise Up LP, as he suggested in our recent interview that B-Real wanted to take the group in a different direction. Despite this, Muggs has been keeping busy as a producer with a number of offshoot projects, the latest being Kill Devil Hills, a collaborative LP with Non-Phixion frontman Ill Bill. With today’s saturated, formulaic approach to making albums, Bill and Muggs take it back to basics, with the one-producer/one-emcee blueprint that helped carve out many a classic album during hip-hop’s greatest eras.
Kill Devil Hills is a breath of fresh air, almost ironically, because the music itself is more akin to the polluted city streets of New York. While New York rap has taken on a life of it’s own in the last decade, many have forgotten about the raw, dusty sound that helped carve out the city’s identity, through acts like Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Nas, and Kool G. Rap & Polo. Bill doesn’t claim to be a gangster, thug, or drug dealer; instead he’s somewhat of a street-reporter-meets-conspiracy-theorist, rhyming about everything from armed robberies to terrorist attacks to full on alien abductions. This aspect of his personality has resonated in his music since his earliest pre-9/11 Non-Phixion records, and with the aftermath of the 2001 attack on New York City, his wide-eyed theories don’t sound that crackpot after all.
Muggs’ production is well beyond what he’s done for Cypress, as he has constantly evolved as a producer over the years, never getting lazy and always reinventing his sound. Kill Devil Hills is no different, presenting a wide palette of production styles for Bill and his guests to rock over. The ridiculous posse cut “Trouble Shooters” finds a classic, hypnotic RZA-esque track that slowly enraptures the listener, as each emcee competes for the top spot. While Sean Price has the most clever rhymes here, it’s O.C.’s ridiculous closing verse that subtly steals the show. “Giants Stadium” also carries heavy Wu influence (including some hilarious visuals by Bill), as he and Q-Unique paint pictures over rolling drums and stuttering electric keyboard stabs. The album wouldn’t be complete without an actual Wu emcee to rhyme over Muggs beats, as Raekwon and Ill Bill don ski masks for a dog day afternoon at “Chase Manhattan”, with one of the most descriptively penned bank-robbery tracks (is that a genre?) heard in ages.
“Milleniums Of Murder” is another standout track, as Muggs employs a heavy, 60′s monster movie backdrop for Bill’s stream of consciousness paranoia, with the only thing missing being a verse from King Geedorah. He closes things out with “Narco Corridos”, a heartfelt dedication to he and Necro’s late Uncle Howie, who’s had a memorable presence as a part of his career in one form or another since day one.
Bill’s pension for over the top conspiracy theories may be a little much for some, as he demonstrates on tracks like “2013″ and “Kill Devil Hills”, firing off several unrelated topics at once and loosely tying them together. But coupled with the fact that he’s got a strong lists of guests here to help balance things out, not to mention one of hip-hop’s greatest producers of all time on the boards, he’s got a very listenable LP with Kill Devil Hills.
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