In hip-hop, a good DJ/producer needs to be able to pull double-duty: create a surrounding congruous to the vocalist's style and content, and simultaneously bring his own sonic stamp to the proceedings. Muggs, who earned much respect building ganja-drenched soundscapes for Cypress Hill, succeeds at both on his SOUL ASSASSINS compilation. His minimalist backdrops unite these 12 twelve tracks performed by a veritable "who's who" of the hip-hop nation circa '96-'97. On "Puppet Master," Dr. Dre's duet with Cypress Hill's B-Real, Muggs loops a shrill piano figure and goes into a scratch frenzy for much of the verses, and drops eerie carnival samples throughout. On KRS-One's old-school-style "Move Ahead," horns bleat and beats become bigger and deffer as though it were still 1985.
Nothing proves Muggs' ability to draw a picture around rappers as well as "Third World," his collaboration with Wu-Tang's GZA/Genius and RZA. A minor-key piano loop leads the Genius down a dark alley, where machine-gun fire explodes; and then a variety of found sounds place both men at a crossroads that sounds like a modern-day variation of Robert Johnson signing his infamous pact.
Spin (4/97, pp.156-157) - 7 (out of 10) - "...Taking back the sonic baton he handed over to...RZA, Muggs sets a team of MC theorists against his version of trip-hop's noir melodrama--piano shards echoing into infinity, drumbeats pounding against the darkness, overheard radio static. The songs are apocalyptic and hushed at once..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/14/97, p.81) - "...Uniting West Coast luminaries like Dr. Dre with New York's Wu-Tang Clan and Fugees, Muggs creates a dream team of rap's most wanted. His apocalyptic grooves steal the show, while brooding strings and eerie trip-hop effects bring a mournful soul feel to his street beats." - Rating: A-
Q (5/97, p.150) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...A modern masterpiece."
The Source (3/97, p.116) - 3.5 Mics (out of 5) - "...the New York born-LA transplant Italiano opted to speak with his hands....Muggs gets the job done..."
Musician (9/97, p.87) - "...Muggs isn't just a rhythm meister: He's a storyteller with a mixing board....he clearly has fun using the board to spin some new ripping yarns with the Soul Assassins."
Rap Pages (4/97, p.77) - "...Muggs' shedding the image of the ultimate pot head and focusing on healthier and more important topics like the New World Order....What makes this album worth having is that it's the first time you will hear the producer produced..."