It’s never fair to compare a sequel to the original. Inevitably, comparisons between the two will always tend to favor the first for creating the concept and marginalize the second for merely capitalizing on the success of the first. You can hardly blame anyone for making a sequel though – from “Rocky III” to “It Ain’t My Fault 2” one thing has been proven – sequels sell. People who remember the original will buy the sequel even if afterwards they decide it doesn’t hold up to the former’s glory.

DJ Muggs attempts to capture fire in a bottle again and strike the same chord he hit with “The Soul Assassins” – a compilation album of hip-hop’s best artists laced with the Cypress Hill maestro’s finest tracks. For the most part, Muggs has managed to reassemble the talent: Kool G. Rap, Xzibit, GZA, Kurupt, Dilated Peoples, Everlast and Self-Scientific are among the artists appearing throughout this selection of thirteen tracks.

When hearing tracks like Xzibit and King Tee’s “You Better Believe It,” there is no doubt that Muggs is one of the best producers in hip-hop. A backdrop of crunchy rock’n’roll guitars practically obliterates the drumtrack, but maintains the head nod factor so well it can hardly be disputed. Xzibit makes this hot track even hotted with his lyrical attack:

“Yeah, yeah, most of the time I’m totin a nine
in my waistline or behind this close to my spine
I write these, negative fines, and heat for lines
Last seen in a black trenchcoat, at Columbine”

On the other hand, Muggs seems to be asleep at the switch on a few of these tracks. The Infamous Mob’s “We Will Survive” is dark and spooky, but not nearly as menacing as one of Havoc’s own Mobb Deep beats. Hostyle’s “Victory or Defeat” is a little too simplistic in it’s three bars of wailing, one bar of breakdown, four bar repeat. “Razor to Your Throat” by Everlast is an interesting reunion of the ex-House of Pain rapper and ex-producer, but doesn’t recapture any of that album’s passion. With the piano samples, trilling noises and RZA samples, it almost sounds like a Wu-Tang throwaway. Everlast’s weak “I’ll do you like BDP did PM Dawn” rhymes do not help – they seem sadly outdated.

When Muggs is at his best, he rivals anybody in the industry at the boards. Kool G. Rap’s “Real Life” will put you in a melancholy trance, GZA’s “When the Fat Lady Sings” seems all too short, and the only failing of Goodie Mob’s “This Some’n To” is the lack of a vocal appearance by Cee-Lo. Still, this album is a mixed bag. Muggs can make a bad rapper sound good and a good rapper sound great, but he can’t make a weak track sound better just by carrying his name. No producer can, not even DJ Premier. For this reason we recommend you quickly hit fast-forward through “Heart of the Assassin” if you purchase this album: a mediocre track is bad enough, but hearing no-name rappers like Chace Infinite, Phenam and Don Krisis rip it is worse. The Ras Kass verse here should have been a wholly seperate song. This album should have been a wholly better sequel to the original.

Muggs presents :: Soul Assassins II
6.5Overall Score