Various Artists - Soul Assassins II      
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written by Heat    
When you think of Cypress Hill, images of blunts, marijuana, and hyped up Latinos come to mind. The last thing that is usually thought of is the beat making creativity of DJ Muggs. When you think of the West Coast's finest producers, images of Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Battlecat, and a host of others come to mind. Last to be thought of is DJ Muggs. It's almost fair to say that Muggs is what those in the hip-hop arena like to call "slept on." So, to wake heads up Muggs drops a compilation album in 1997 known as Soul Assassins. For this project, he rounds up his hottest beats and the hottest rappers in the game. The album is received warmly by the hip-hoppers, but is commercially slept on. No problem with that. Jump ahead to the year 2000 and Muggs is back to hit sleepers with another dose of No-Doze. But this second time around the prescribed drug isn't as potent as its predecessor.

Soul Assassins II starts off lovely with the real king of New York, Kool G. Rap, blazing the track on "Real Life." Kool "Grandpa" Rap still has the skills at his age. Muggs' beatminering compliments the MC's emotion nicely. A little suggestion...close your eyes and listen to "Real Life" to feel its effects. Got damn. This shit is niiice.

The adrenaline continues to flow as Xzibit and King Tee insist "You Better Believe." Xzibit comes off on this track like a horny gorilla tearing through the jungle in search of a mate. Get the fuck out of X's way!!! And once again Muggs delivers the perfect ingredients to this hip-hop recipe by cooking up a rock-type beat. This works and leaves your head banging until your neck snaps. What the hell can Muggs do next? He can get GZA, that's what. And he also can let GZA rhyme over a beat that sounds like it came straight from RZA himself. "When the Fat Lady Sings" sounds like a lost Beneath the Surface track, and I mean that in a good way.

Things keep getting better as Goodie Mob gets off on "This Some'n To" and Kurupt teases ears with "Armageddon." But after that, S.A.II begins to take a slight trip downward. Muggs appears to slip into a production depression as the rest of the album's tracks turn dark and dreary. It doesn't help that most of the MCs on these joints don't do much to captivate the listener. One example is "Heart of the Assassin" featuring Chace Infinite, Krondon, Phenam, and Ras Kass. Phenam proclaiming that "my aim is sweet like Krispy Kreme" kills an already dying song, and by the time Ras Kass comes on all is already lost. Muggs tries to pick up the pace a little on "When the Pain Inflict" featuring Kurupt and Roscoe, but it's still not enough to get things going. In fact, the whole second half of the album doesn't seem to get going at all. Aside from boring production, the songs seem to end too soon. But maybe that's a good thing. S.A.II doesn't pick up again until the "last" song on the album (there's a hidden track after that). And once again, byt this time it's too late.

You've got to give it up to Muggs though, the man has kills and doesn't deserve to be slept on. But if he wants to keep listeners up for an hour or more, he has to carry an entire album that will not make people literally sleep on it and take naps while listening.









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