Album: Grandmasters
Label: Angeles Records, Method Recordings

DJ Muggs: “For forever, everyone was like, ‘Work with GZA.’ So I had gotten a little distribution deal, and I started Angeles Records for about a year, and said, ‘Let me put out some records. I’m tired of fucking dealing with these people.’ So I called GZA and was like, ‘Yo, I got a little budget. You wanna do this record?’ And he was like, ‘Cool.’

“So he came out to L.A., and we did the record in two weeks. And RZA came in, and was like, ‘How’d you get him to do the record in two weeks?’ Because I guess RZA, when they did that first album, would go all the way to Manhattan, hang out all day, come back to Staten Island, and he would still be on 4 bars. But he did it.


RZA came in, and was like, ‘How’d you get him to do the record in two weeks?’


“His concepts are ridiculous. Like, ‘How the fuck do you think about this shit?’ So I had these beats, and some of them were demos that I wanted to finish and produce more. But he was like, ‘Nah, nah. I like them raw.’ Like, ‘Exploitation of Mistakes’ was just [drums and a piano loop]. I really like that one.

“That album was fun to make. You know, you get numb to the money. The money numbs you. So stepping away from the [Cypress Hill] situation again, I got to be creative again. And that was the first step, sitting in the studio with GZA, making whatever, no demands. Making beats out of the SP-1200 again. I pulled from old samples, and made new stuff. One or two of the beats were off of a DAT tape from six years before that. I would just play random shit for GZA, and he would pick the beats, and record the songs, and we banged it out quick.

“I remember [him laying down ‘Exploitation of Mistakes’]. It was fucking ridiculous. The whole story with the ‘two individuals, pulled from a lake/Inside a vehicle...’ You hang on to every single word. It was so visual. And every day before we recorded, we drank Guinness and played chess. And that’s how we got the title of the album. What’s the highest level you can get to in chess? The Grandmaster. So in terms of what we do, we’re Grandmasters. So from there, it was like, ‘I want every song title to have a name related to chess.’”