The year of 2017 has seen the release of collaborative projects from the likes of Future and Young Thug, Offset and 21 Savage, Gucci Mane and Metro Boomin’ and several other dynamic duos. One of the lowkey gems released by a tandem in 2017 happens to have been delivered by rapper Meyhem Lauren and producer DJ Muggs. Titled Gems From The Equinox, the 11-track joint album from Meyhem and Muggs is a solid mixture of the unlikely tag team’s respective swaggers, combined with the sonics that borrow from the grit and grime of early ‘90s NYC. Action Bronson, Sean Price, B-Real and Roc Marciano, who blessed the jazzy first single “Street Religion,” make appearances throughout the project that was fully produced by Muggs, who is a pillar of West Coast hip-hop as a member of Cypress Hill.
Meyhem Lauren and DJ Muggs recently stopped by REVOLT to discuss the album that brought the two together musically, working with the late great Sean Price and the forthcoming Cypress Hill project.
How did you two link up to craft Gems From The Equinox?
DJ Muggs: We linked up about four years ago at my man Alchemist crib. He told me to stop by, because he had Action Bronson in there recording Rare Chandeliers. Meyhem was down there. I made about three beats that day. I went home and by the time I woke up there were three complete songs done in my inbox.
Meyhem Lauren: If Muggs leaves three beats, you have to knock them out man. We don’t play around.
Meyhem, knowing the legendary status of Muggs, what was it like for you to work with him?
Meyhem Lauren: It was motivational. Like you heard, I did three songs in three hours. Muggs left me beats, and it was a wrap. That doesn’t happen everyday.
How do your styles compliment each other?
DJ Muggs: I dig Mey’s style. I dig the New York, street, gritty, and raw feel of his style. I dig the vivid stories. It’s like I can close my eyes and see everything happening. He’s mad visual. It’s like he’s painting a portrait. On the human side, I love this dude. His work ethic is like mines. You have to want it more than me for me to want to sit in that studio with you for 15 hours a day.
Meyhem Lauren: Same on this side. We started working just to work, but Muggs is family. That’s cousin Muggs. That’s brother Muggs. As far as musically, Cypress Hill is a part of my DNA. I grew up listening to primarily east coast hip-hop, but other than that, Cypress is in that mix. I’m not just saying that because we did a project. It’s really part of my DNA. It’s a part of why I rap. The fact that everything came full circle and we got to knock out an album is incredible.
Explain the meaning behind the Gems From The Equinox title?
DJ Muggs: The equinox is the day of the year that there’s an equal amount of light and dark. It’s the perfect time of the year. It’s dark and light at the same time.
Meyhem Lauren: It’s dropping gems from that perspective. I’m not necessarily a dark person. I’m not really a light person either. It’s just somewhere in the middle where we found that good balance.
Why did you choose to work with Roc Marciano on “Street Religion”?
DJ Muggs: Roc is one of my favorite MCs period. He’s family too. We all work together, so when we do projects we intertwine the family. We ain’t running out trying to catch fools we don’t know.
A highlight of Gems From The Equinox comes courtesy of the late Sean Price, who is featured on “Aquatic Violence.” Were you guys close to him?
Meyhem Lauren: I was close to Sean. Sean was one of my favorites. He was one of the first people I met in the industry. We had a bunch of mutual friends in Brooklyn before we even connected, which is why we got so close. It’s just dope to have one of the last Sean Price verses on our project. We’ve been working on the project for about four years. Sean knocked that out about three years ago. We’ve been sitting on it. It’s an honor. That’s my man, and I miss him.
DJ Muggs: I wasn’t as close to Sean as Mey was, but I’ve known Sean for a long time. It was a pleasure to have him on the album.
Do you have a favorite song featured on Gems From The Equinox?
Meyhem Lauren: I honestly can’t pick one record. I love the project. The project is really cohesive. Each record feeds off of the next one. It’s just like a beauty work of art, so I can’t pick one song.
DJ Muggs: I feel the same way. It’s like a picture. It’s like what part of that picture is your favorite part of the picture. I put the record together like that. Just one piece of work. If you pull something out of it, it’s going to seem incomplete.
What’s up next for you guys?
Meyhem Lauren: Just more work, man. We’re going to do a lot more work together. I’m going to be working with Muggs on the Soul Assassins project. I have a bunch of solo things coming out. He does too. We working.
DJ Muggs: New Soul Assassins record. Wrapping up Cypress right now. We’re about to go Egypt to finish up the last two records for the album. I got a record with Roc Marciano coming out in March. That’s the first few things on the plate. Otherwise, I’m eating good vegetables, hitting the gym everyday, taking care of the family and spreading love and happiness.
Meyhem Lauren: We also have television bubbling too. F*ck, That’s Delicious season three is on the way. Action got the new nightly show The Untiled Action Bronson Show, which I’m a part of. I’m a field correspondent when they’re in the studio wilding out doing whatever they do. We got sword swallowers, jugglers, famous chefs and musicians. I’ll be on the streets doing my own segments. Get use to this little brown face, man.
When can we expect the new Cypress Hill album drop?
DJ Muggs: Cypress should be out in April. April 20th we’re shooting for.