If there’s two men in hip-hop that have kept really busy in 2018, they’d be DJ Muggs and Roc Marciano. DJ Muggs is a well-known producer and DJ for many artists including House of Pain, Ice Cube, GZA (including some collaboration albums), Planet Asia, and Meyhem Lauren among others. He’s also known as a member of Cypress Hill (who also had an album released last month) and leader of the art collective Soul Assassins, who recently released Soul Assassins: Assassination Day (Dia Del Aesinato), which I did plan on reviewing but didn’t have much to say aside from it being a damn good listen.
Now with Roc Marciano, he has been the one rapper that’s been grabbing my attention most this year. Originally he was a member of the Flipmode Squad but left in 2001, and he’s been in the underground since then, garnering a lot of internet acclaim. Recently, he put out 2 albums earlier this year with Rosebud’s Revenge 2 (RR2): The Bitter Dose and also from last month, Behold a Dark Horse, and both are good hip-hop albums that have a shot being on my list by the end of this year. Now with Marciano’s bars and Muggs’ production, they team up on this collaboration, and with the singles easily impressing me to hear more, what do I think of this album?
To no one’s surprise (well, in case the editor is looking at this), I absolutely loved this album.
The entire album has that 1970s exploitation vibe as it starts with the “Kaos Theme,” an instrumental from Muggs driven by the chanting of “Kaos,” which works really well. The production overall is absolutely amazing with its 70s’ influenced sound that uses elements of funk, soul, and rock infused in the instrumentals, each sounding cinematic and lo-fi from the piano-laden “Dolph Lundgren,” the super-soul sounding vibe of “Shit I’m On,” and the classic rock influence you hear on “White Dirt” that sounds like something in the vein of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” The closing track “Wormhole” really offers that sound as well, especially with how the guitar and the piano build-up to, and how it all goes together had me listening to it every time the song pops on, and it is my favorite instrumental on there. However, there is the one song that has more of a trap influence here with “Caught a Lick,” probably to break the mold of sounding too samey, but that’s really not a problem here.
For those that are very unfamiliar with Roc Marciano, he raps about what he’s always on: his pimp shit. Yes, Roc is one of those rappers that does stick to what he knows and he has a way of making that interesting to listen to, especially with how he performs with his low tone and authoritative voice that lets you know he’s not fooling around when talking about his lifestyle.
For instance, on “Shit I’m on”:
I flood the shipyard, you rap subpar
Fuck a roof, why cover the cars, white like a Dove bar
Park the double R, pull your trump card
This hog’s 300 large, front on the guard, you get dumped on
You tumbled when your number was called
And on “Rolls Royce Rugs”:
I’m like the new don, Magic Juan
Got niggas rappin’ wrong
I had the long mink jacket
I had to laugh it off (Ha, ha, ha)
The shit niggas had on was half off
Fuck all the back and forth
I blast for sport (Blast for sport)
Drag a Newport
Or on the track “Dolph Lundgren”:
I’m too valuable to be hanging around you dudes, uh
Don’t let this silky soft skin fool ya
My heart is cooler than winters in Vancouver
Pull the Grand Coupe up, it’s brand new like Grand Puba
I keep good shooters, we like the Indiana Hoosiers
Uh, I put something sharp in your plumbing
I’m not the one to come and fuck with, youngin
I bust your shit like Dolph Lundgren
Oh, and while I keep bringing up the influences of 1970s blaxploitation, I forgot to mention that according to something I read on XXL, the album serves as a soundtrack to a movie coming spring 2019 that both Muggs and Marciano are acting in, playing childhood friends reclaiming a block after Muggs’ character returned from a 10-year stint in prison. It certainly does feel like this album would fit in with something like that.
Overall, I’m definitely digging the hell out of this album, and once again it’s a contender for my best of list. Man, that list is going to have so much good hip-hop that it’s not even funny. The unique production from Muggs and Marciano’s bars combined are stellar and I think this project is better than their solo past projects this year, even if I still stand by those albums being great. It’s just been a good year for gritty, streetwise hip-hop that has an experimental edge to it.
FINAL VERDICT: Buy it. It’ll be chaotic to not tune into this album.
Kaos is available on Soul Assassins Records via CD, digital download and streaming services.