So does DJ Muggs wanna be a rock superstar? Or a rap superstar?
Cypress Hill's smokey beat architect and the producer behind House of Pain's "Jump Around" is heading more in the direction of ambient superstar, if there is such a thing.
For his first proper solo album, due in April, Muggs has concocted a dark collection of multilayered electronic music more in line with the Juxtapose album he did with Tricky than anything from his longtime rap group.
"This is a DJ record, no hip-hop at all," Muggs said Tuesday from his Los Angeles studio. "It's very electronic, with some rock in it. It's very experimental."
The album, titled Dust, features guest appearances by "a very bluesy" Everlast, former Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli and former Buckcherry singer Josh Todd. A newcomer named simply Amy also provides vocals on about half of the tracks.
Muggs is eyeing either "Rain" or "Faded" — both Todd collaborations — to be the first single. "He's going to surprise you," the producer said of Todd. "You wouldn't even know it's him."
The unlikely duo, who met through mutual friends, have also collaborated on material for Todd's next project. Since the release of Cypress Hill's Stoned Raiders last fall, Muggs has also produced a song for Zack de la Rocha's solo album and a few tracks with the Wu-Tang Clan's GZA, but most of his time has been spent on Dust.
"[I'm] trying to push the boundaries of music," Muggs said. "A lot of it right now is, you can only do hip-hop or only do rock. I like the old days where artists would explore and do things with artists in India or [use] African drums, like the Beatles. Right now, nobody is going to be ready for my record."
Muggs has found a believer in Anti, the Epitaph imprint home to Tom Waits' most recent releases. The label signed him without even hearing a demo.
After he finishes sequencing Dust later this month, Muggs will reconvene with Cypress Hill to record their seventh studio album. He may also tour solo, depending on the demand.
"Any time an artist does something out of character, everyone's like, 'Whoa,' " he reflected. "But that's where my mind is, and I don't expect anyone to see my mind. I've done rock and hip-hop, and I'm going to continue to grow. ... It's just a natural progression. Cypress set the pace for a lot of that trip-hop sh-- and things going on in Europe."