DJ Muggs Vs. Ill Bill - Kill Devil Hills

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What's refreshing about DJ Muggs production is that it always rocks, in other words it always sounds human.

After collaborative cult gems with GZA (Grandmasters), Sick Jacken (Legend of the Mask and the Assassin) and Planet Asia (Pain Language), DJ Muggs has somehow managed to raise the bar in his Vs. series with Kill Devil Hills, the latest installment that matches up the Cypress Hill producer with Brooklyn emcee and Non-Phixion front-man Ill Bill.


The thing that’s most striking after the first listen is how natural the album feels. The earlier trifecta of Vs. albums weren’t lacking much, but they really did feel like versus albums; a top notch emcee and producer dropping their signature styles into the pot and  harnessing the collision. That formula makes one kind of appeal, whereas Kill Devil Hills feels a bit closer to the first round of Wu-Tang Clan solo albums, not so much in a musical sense but rather by how comfortable it comes across. Kill Devil Hills is an album that sounds like it was recorded by artists who have a few years as an actual duo under their belts. Listening to the first track “Cult Assassin,” one can’t help but reminisce how right it all sounded when B-Real’s (also appearing on KDH) voice flowed over Muggs production for the first time on “Pigs.”

Kill Devil Hills musically and lyrically is like the soundtrack to the greatest movie never filmed; a movie starring Fred Williamson, directed by Dario Argento, co-written by David Icke and Nicholas Pileggi, set in the Vietnam of Apocalypse Now.

The album itself doesn’t fall prey to some of the pitfalls currently plaguing many of today’s Hip Hop releases. It’s not too long and the guest appearances have been chosen and sequenced perfectly. The supporting cast of emcees only raises the quality of the record rather than eclipses it. Take “Trouble Shooters” , one of the album’s stand out tracks featuring Sick Jacken, Sean Price and a viscously on-point O.C. Next add Raekwon, who appears on another highlight, “Chase Manhattan.” Now the listener literally has performances from members of the greatest crews in Hip Hop history. (D.I.T.C., Bootcamp Clik, Wu-Tang Clan and Soul Assassins / Sick Side Army). Additionally, these guest shots aren’t about nostalgia as each veteran sounds just as hungry as the artists on Kill Devil Hills who emerged in the last decade. (Vinnie Paz, Chace Infinite, Slaine)

Ill Bill is an emcee that has the rare ability to consistently relay vivid imagery and nuanced story lines from two vantage points. Much of the swaggering and tough-guy bravado of today’s emcees fail to hide the paper gangster while the lyricists who spit big words, lofty concepts and brainy wordplay are later revealed to be incapable of carrying on a real conversation about subject matter featured in their rhymes. Since the days of “black helicopters in the sky,” Ill Bill has balanced the dystopian paranoia with a nuts and bolts street level sensibility. It has never been more evident than on Kill Devil Hills that this is an artist who feels equally at home surveying his world from a corner in Canarsie or tracking the comings and goings of the Bildeburg Group from a thermal camera in space.  As he says himself on “Illuminati 666,” “Church Ave. to the Taj Mahal We Rock hard.”

What’s refreshing about DJ Muggs production is that it always rocks, in other words it always sounds human. Today is the age of the quantize button and recording an album with the artists thousands of miles apart via MP3s. All of Muggs’ work injects the tangible back into the music. Like a band, he’s in the same studio with his collaborators laying down tracks and making creative decisions by talking from across the room rather than through e-mail. The sounds and instrumentation call to mind real musicians rather than sounds from the Fruity Loops library. Listening to the organs one hears Ray Manzarek, the drums, Ginger Baker, the sitar, a dusted out Ravi Shankar. Even Muggs’ synths have that off kilter, sonically-corrupted vibe that can only be achieved by manual input on an old Amiga. It’s perfect that Muggs’ darkest work appears on Kill Devil Hills with an emcee who regularly references metal icons including Slayer, Black Sabbath, Danny Lilker and Chuck Schuldiner.

On The Future is Now?, Bill's Uncle Howie - who recently passed away and was iconic in his own right - helped kick things off with the track “Drug Music.” Nearly a decade later it’s poignant that Uncle Howie’s voice closes out Kill Devil Hills on the track “Narco Corridos,” this time addressing the tragic flip side of the same coin. It’s a good thing that thousands of us will get to hear this memorial to Uncle Howie again and again because Kill Devil Hills is an album that once started can only be finished the right way - straight through to the end.

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73 Comments

  • Bimmy

    this album was my favorite of 2010 by far. no autotune, no watered down concepts, no soft batch beats. Strictly hardcore & grimy, exactly what I expected from a Bill/Muggs album. I really loved that "Gutter Water" album from Gangrene too. both these albums go hand in hand.

  • J

    Im a big bill and muggs fan but this is up there for dissapointment of the year

  • haha

    album of the year for me. on some non phixion style.Ill Bill is not as good as usual; even with that she is better than almost everyone right now DJ muggs destroyed that. Amazing beats; people are sleeping they will realise that in a few years

  • SutterKane

    love the record, even though its probably still not as good as the Sick Jacken Collabo or the Planet Asia one, but thats because I thought those albums were near-flawless, theres a few tracks on here I could do without but for the most part this is great 4/5

  • eyeseehatepeople

    hey balls: get ya' name out ya' ears and out ya' mouth and recognize! hatorade lovin' hater ass!!!

  • FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    anybody that thinks this anything less than 5 stars is lost. go listen to the beib.

  • balls

    Yo DX, before I even clicked on this review, I KNEW yall would rate it high; Becuz you dudes are nothin but fuckin backpackin' nerds. This album fuckin SUCKS!!! R u serious???? I listened to this whole shit and was immediately dissapointed! Muggs has fallen the fuck off!! THese beats are horrible, bottom line. Remember people, DJ Muggs is the guy who brought us Cypress Hill's first album, their second, "Black Sunday," and House of Pain's "Same As It Ever Was." Do yall remember the FIRE this dude used to produce??? "JUmp Around"??? And lately, all I hear is trash from this dude. What happened, did his talent just go away or something?? Shit is annoying as hell, man...This album is trash.

    • haha

      you just a fool, muggs is not going to do 40 jump arounds or insane in the membrane, the concept of this album is dark beats with a sci fi touch.. can a producer evolve? thats it with hiphop purists they dont want to see artists evolve

    • balls

      Actually, it's GREAT to be me. You shoulda seen the girl I smashed last night. Wheww!!!!

    • Anonymous

      it has nothing to do with backpacking. it has everything to do with great music, which you don't seem to hear. sucks to be you

  • I_Am_Beast

    I've listened to this album so many times in the last couple of weeks it's embedded in my brain! 5/5 for me, without a doubt. ILL BILL is an underground legend. Dropping wack shit is not an option, and so far his track record is perfect. Of course Muggs provided the perfect soundscape of grim atmosphere with dusted-out sample flips. Eagerly anticipating the next "VS." album, as well as Bill/Vinnie Paz "Heavy Metal Kings" album.

  • LamarMatic

    Could have been better, but overall sounds like a Muggs vs. Bill album should sound like.

  • Robert Laryea

    fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiire!!!

  • FRoSTYtheSNoWMaN

    BANGER! 4/5. Hard Shit. Ugh! To me this was a dope album, but can't be album of the year so far. Kweli or The Roots would be my top picks.

  • blackpowercartel.com

    crakcerz stay out of hip hop wetbacc 2...

  • CPT

    Lets have more muthafuckin Soul Assassins Presents goddamit

  • MI2XU

    Pure Fire, Most consistent overall out of 4, though my top 2 favorite individual beats are on Mask vs Assassin ... Who Do Y'all wanna see for the next Muggs VS.? (Any one of the 4 Horsemen could be interesting IMO)

    • Tidomann

      Yeah... I fux wit' yo suggestion, Kurupt (on some well revived lyrical skill) or maybe Ras Kass (on some tight ass beats from Muggs for a change). Not rulin' out 'Bis & Priest...or maybe the whole crew: Muggs vs The 4 Horsemen, now dat wud be real RAW!

    • nixnox

      I would love to see a muggs vs Sean Price...

  • jp

    Solid as fuck release. i think the rating is right on id give it a 4.5. This and aotp cd highlights of the year.

  • DrebinSlevin

    Grimyness all round.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite white emcee other than El-P..As a matter of fact cop Simian Drugs thy're both on that...Muggs delivered on the beats but they in the same fam so it should be dope...

  • curtj5

    This is a good album no doubt but personally I'm slightly disappointed. Album of the year? Hell no, look at all the classic hip hop albums that were dropped this year.

  • &WHAT

    CRACKERZ STAY OUT OF HIP HOP MEXICAN 2

  • cito

    By far Muggs grimmiest albumn. Breif and savage like old punk rock records

  • zippy

    FIRE!!!!!! Been waiting for this album for a while now and it doesn't disappoint. Best installment in the vs series right next to the one with Sick Jacken and best album of the year IMO. Support this and buy it so they can continue bringing us the ruckus. Salute!

  • Gizm0

    i thought the album was OK, for me, it isn't an hour of reprisal, i dont think its on the same level, it has more of a mixtape feel for me.

  • Robert Laryea

    man this shyt is muthafuggin hot! this shyt might be too hard for some a yall nigaz! if u dont like it go listen to wacka flocka fucka!

  • great album

    this album goes too hard, fuck illuminati just listen to the lyrics

  • WisePro

    much respect to bill and muggs with this one both always consistent and always keeping it raw and poetic. Ever since muggs started these vs. projects they all been really ill not one was disappointing not one was below great with that said here's another one and ill-bill's been killin it forvever non-phixion forever always has dope lyrics and a crazy flow

  • xZCZX

    http://www.youtube.com/305ilovemia#p/u No Image No Gimmicks Just Bangin Ass Music I Love M I A Presents $WonDough$ http://www.youtube.com/305ilovemia#p/u

  • trajik

    first bill dropped the la coka album, that destroyed, then hour of reprisal, which was my favorite album that year. and now this joint!!! bill's last 3 cuts have been "album of the year" nominees if not the album of the year. when are people going to realize that he is the truth and should be know as "one of the greatest" to ever touch the mic........KEEP IT SICK BILL!!! THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED!!!!

  • bg13

    Im sure this album is sick but has the reviewer ever heard of la coka nostra. ill bill and muggz have worked and toured together for years ya dunksy! thats probably why they have cohesion like a couple of artists who have worked together for years. whats qualifies these fools to write reviews. just like not giving spitta a good review! fuck you couch

    • cc1111

      what fukn copy of "A Brand You Can Trust" do u have? (Alchemist, Cynic, Lethal, Sicknature, Q-Unique) And the guy on decks when they toured prior & supportin that record - his name is DJ Lethal u cock gobbler.

  • BONKEIRA

    I think we're talking about the best hiphop album of 2010 here

  • junMaf*ckn

    This is the type of music that makes me speed on the Grand Central Parkway and walk down grimey NYC streets at night dolo wishin a nigga would... The backdrop is like a horror/sci fi flick and Ill Bill is the heavy voiced narrator of a world gone insane. The Soundtrack to Our Lives. Copped from ughh.com yesterday. Love the drums Muggs! Keep it Raw Bill!

  • jesterdxxl

    Muggs is a fucking legend he puts his soul into every project just like Bill puts his heart into every project!

  • jack dan jackman

    u niggas are assholes. sounds like you listen to music on some movie critic fag shit. pad and pen markdowns, eat a dick new jacks. muggs still a monster. funk is monstrous. the production here reminds is like the bomb squad on drugs. ill bill tv beat is classic muggs, trouble shooters is a banger. praise god someone still making that hard rock shit, you geeks need to go fuckin die with wiz khalifa crap now.

    • The Giz

      Word da fuck up main, people be actin like they don't recognize the skill and purity anymore, dats dat industry mind thinkin

  • Up North

    Albums ok. Rhyme schemes get a little lazy at times and the beats are nothing new. When you got cats like Black Milk, Hi-Tek, Nottz, and Scram Jones putting out the level of material they've been putting out lately, it's hard to give Muggs and Bill anything better than average. Album of the year? Doubt it. Distant Relatives hands down with honorable mentions going to Reflection Eternal, OB4CL2, and most definitely The Roots.

    • Up North

      lol, I don't give a fuck. This clown is sitting behind a computer talking shit.

    • jack johnson

      looks like eddie murphy took your comments a little hard lol. i agree i found the roots album better, this album is good but i agree the rhyme schemes sounded a little lazy at times. its still one of the top releases this year though and i'm not sure about distant relatives, i think this is at least on par with that. but roots album is my fave so far

    • EddieMurrrphy

      First off Raekwon was last year the roots was some boring nigger shit, i have actually liked every album of theirs better. i can appreciate the need to keep the sound fresh and different but that shit wud just boring. distant relatives tho??? you fag. worst hybrid project ever worse mash up than chris o'donnell and ll cool j. damian marleys weak watered down americanized reggae beats, and nas spittin fake nigger poetry. i liked nas last few albums but lines like 'we like two o'bama's' made me wanna shit while listening to that piece of trash album album of the year DIE! by far you pussy fucks

  • sanbud_tehrani

    I'm definitely going to check this out, sounds great.

  • Vocab

    One of the best, if not THE best album of the year. So happy with how this turned out. The production is near flawless and Bill is currently in his prime. Muggs Vs.series just keeps getting better and better, I hope to god he continues this series long in to the future. Cant wait to see who he collabs with next

  • sdfads

    http://www.youtube.com/305ilovemia#p/u No Image No Gimmicks Just Bangin Ass Music I Love M I A Presents $WonDough$ http://www.youtube.com/305ilovemia#p/u

  • BK's Finest

    Muggs is not what he was back in the days and Bill is kinda redundant. Album is just ok..

  • Anonymous

    simply dope!!! Support real artists...

  • jack johnson

    have to agree with the rating, i gave it the same. dope production all through

  • QuBix

    This is by far the best album of 2010. This and Vinnie Paz just owned the year. Thank you, thank you, and thank you yet again. Without Ill Bill, Muggs, AOTP, WU, BCC, DITC and some others, hip hop would really be dead in the year 2010.

  • Eric

    Dope album, already spreading the word to the homies about this album. Gives you a breath of fresh air from all the Bullshit out right now!! Do you guys agree with me?

  • GRIMGLOCK

    Ill Bill is a Beast

  • MurrayOTU

    Good review. I haven't had time to properly scrutinize the LP yet (I've been sent an advance of Celph Titled/Buckwild's '1990 Now' - You won't believe how good this is for the 'heads!'). But what I agree on first listen is that the album is sonically cohesive and that you can really tell they both collaborated in the studio rather than via email like so many artists these days. 4 star is fair here.

  • bob d

    rugged collectors? the fuck is wrong with you people? have you even heard the album?

  • Vincent

    This is not 4 stars worth. 3 starts is enough i mean Ill Bill sounds always the same and attacks the same subjects: porn, horror and conspiracy shit. Beats are okay but nothing special. It's a decent rapalbum.

  • zombie

    Crack....not quite as dope over-all as Vinnies drop but very,very close...must have for rugged collectors.