Producer and Cypress Hill member DJ Muggs digs out an otherworldly jam that captures the fusion of art and music at the heart of the old-school era, and tells Sam Willis how it influenced him…
“The record I love the most is a record called Beat Bop. It’s very abstract and very illogical and awkward. Rammellzee has this kind of a style in his art, in his philosophy and in his rhymes. He’s one of my favourite rappers in the world, ever. He’s very influential for me. This record in particular was supposedly produced by Jean-Michel Basquiat, but he really didn’t do anything but put his name on it. He did the cover, the single cover, and it’s like one of the most expensive hip-hop covers that has ever existed. The rhymes, the flows, Rammellzee’s voice and what he’s talking about are all incredible. They were probably smoking fucking angel dust when they wrote that song. The fucking song is psychedelic. It’s dark, and it sounds like the early days when hip-hop was still a super-raw, underground culture. It was during that time period when hip-hop and the art scenes combined. It’s when hip-hop met Andy Warhol. It resonates that time period and the rawness and the energy of the culture.
“The song’s like 15 minutes long and it’s the kind of record that shows you there are no rules. My style is very awkward. I have an awkward approach. I’m not musically trained, I never went to music school and I don’t play instruments, so I approach music from a whole different angle. I like awkward, obscure shit and shit that’s just out of the norm. That record had a big influence on me early because of all of that.
“I first heard Beat Bop in ’84. I was in New York and I was like: ‘Yo! What the fuck is this right here?’ I was already into rap. I was into The Treacherous Three in ’78 and in ’79 when Rapper’s Delight came out – that’s when I really caught the fever for rap. That’s when I started finding things and going deeper and deeper down the wormhole. When I found this record, it just resonated with me more than Rapper’s Delight and more than all of this commercial shit that was being played. It’s dark and fucking moody.
“During that time, Run-D.M.C. started coming about, maybe a bit after. Hip-hop at the time was pretty much 12″ singles then… Run-D.M.C. was another game changer, when Sucker MC’s came out, it was another one of those records that I was like: ‘Woah’. That was another one that changed the world. Then, in ’87, Rakim My Melody came out along with Eric B. Is President. These are records that are game changers, that reinvented the music all over again.
“Beat Bop didn’t affect the whole movement of hip-hop in the same way as they did, but there’s a certain aesthetic of people that know this music and get into it. Rammellzee was an artist, a graff artist, and he is mad influential as an artist, too. You’re starting to see more stuff after he passed away. Red Bull just did a big show for him in New York and it’s ridiculous. It’s not a mainstream thing, the people who know are the people who know. They’re a certain type of person into some really dark, art shit.
“I think hip-hop is just as important today… I’ve never listened to the radio and got what I needed from the radio. You’ve got to go seek the music and find the music from the record stores and in the underground. The underground is incredible still. You have SoundCloud rappers who are doing trap shit and turn-up shit and you have rappers who are doing more of a New York hip-hop sound that are killing it, that are fucking dope. People like Roc Marciano, Westside Gunn… It’s one of my favourite times ever now.”