Cypress Hill Digital Biography
DVX, the original incarnation of Cypress Hill, formed in 1986 when Cuban-born brothers Sen Dog (born Senen Reyes, November 20, 1965) and Mellow Man Ace hooked up with fellow Los Angeles residents Muggs (born Lawrence Muggerud, January 28, 1968) and B Real (born Louis Freese, June 2, 1970). The group began pioneering a fusion of Latin and hip-hop slang, developing their own style by the time Mellow Man Ace left the group in 1988. Renaming themselves Cypress Hill after a local street, the group continued to perform around L.A., eventually signing with Ruffhouse/Columbia in 1991.
Cypress Hill is from South Gate, California. Cypress Hill was the first latino group to have platinum and multi-platinum albums and one of the first rap groups to gain a following with fans of hard rock and metal.
Their first album, which was self-titled, was released in August 1991. Its single was “Phuncky Feel One”, but it was the B-side “How I Could Just Kill a Man” (formerly “Trigga Happy Nigga”) that attracted more airplay on urban radio and college radio. Based on the success of the single and other tracks such as bilingual track “Latin Lingo” and X-rated Spanish track “Tres Equis”, the album sold two million copies in the US alone. Subsequently, DJ Muggs produced the first House of Pain album, then worked on other projects like Funkdoobiest. The band made their first appearance at Lollapalooza on the side stage in 1992.
Black Sunday, the group’s second album, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 in 1993, recording the highest Soundscan for a rap group up until that time. Also with their debut still on the charts they became the first rap artists to have 2 albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 at the same time. With “Insane in the Brain” becoming a crossover hit, the album went triple platinum in the U.S. and sold about 3.25 million copies.
Cypress Hill was banned from Saturday Night Live after Muggs smoked cannabis on-air and the band trashed their instruments while playing their second single “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”. The band headlined the “Soul Assassins” tour with House of Pain and Funkdoobiest as support, then performed on a college tour with Rage Against the Machine and Seven Year Bitch. In 1993, Cypress Hill also had two tracks on the Judgment Night soundtrack, teamed up with Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth.
The band played at the 1994 Woodstock Festival introducing their new member Eric Bobo, formerly a percussionist with the Beastie Boys. Bobo is the son of salsa musician Willie Bobo. Rolling Stone magazine named the band as the best rap group in their music awards voted by critics and readers. Cypress Hill played at Lollapalooza for two successive years, topping the bill in 1995. They appeared on the The Simpsons episode “Homerpalooza”.
Their third album Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom was released in 1995 selling 1.5 million copies and reaching number 3 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the hit single “Throw Your Set in the Air”. Cypress Hill also contributed a track “I Wanna Get High” to the High Times sponsored Hempilation album to support NORML.
Feud With Ice Cube
Ice Cube asked to put “Throw Your Set in the Air” on his Friday soundtrack, but B-Real refused, prompting Cube to record a new song “Friday” with a similar chorus; Cypress Hill responded with the track “No Rest For The Wicked.” Westside Connection replied with the diss track “King Of The Hill” and “Cross Em Out & Put a K”, to which Cypress Hill replied with “Ice Cube Killa,” which uses the same beat as “King Of The Hill” and disses Ice Cube and Mack 10. “Ice Cube Killa” has never been released officially. In 1997 B-Real of Cypress Hill and Ice Cube were invited to a late night talk show in order to reconcile their differences for the benefit of the hip hop community, and the feud thus ended. Cube And B-Real would work together later that year as guest features on the track “Men of Steel” for the soundtrack of Shaquille O’Neal’s film Steel. B-Real and Cube did even feature as guests in Warren G’s single “Get U Down” which also featured Snoop Dogg.
Sen Dog took a break from the band to form a Los Angeles based punk-rap band SX-10. Meanwhile in 1996, Cypress Hill appeared on the first ‘Smokin’ Grooves’ tour, featuring Ziggy Marley, The Fugees, Busta Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest. The band also released a nine track EP Unreleased and Revamped with rare mixes. In 1997, band members focused on their solo careers. Muggs released Muggs Presents … the Soul Assassins featuring contributions from Wu-Tang Clan members, Dr. Dre, KRS-One, Wyclef Jean and Mobb Deep. B-Real appeared with Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J and Method Man on “Hit Em High” from the multi-platinum Space Jam Soundtrack. He also appeared with RBX, Nas and KRS-One on “East Coast Killer, West Coast Killer” on Dr. Dre’s Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath album, and released an album entitled “The Psycho Realm” from his side project of the same name. Though the focus that year was not on Cypress Hill, the band played Smokin’ Grooves with George Clinton and Erykah Badu.
Cypress Hill released IV in 1998 which went gold in the U.S., even though the reviews were somewhat negative, on the backs of hit singles “Tequila Sunrise” and another tribute to smoking cannabis “Dr. Greenthumb.” Sen Dog also released the Get Wood sampler as part of SX-10 on the label Flip. In 1999, Cypress Hill helped with the PC crime/very mature video game Kingpin: Life of Crime. Three of their songs from the 1998 IV album were in the game ( “16 Men Till There’s No Men Left”, “Checkmate” and “Lightning Strikes”). B-Real also did some of the voices of the people in the game. Also in 1999, the band released a greatest-hits album in Spanish, Los grandes éxitos en español. Cypress Hill then fused genres with their two-disc release, Skull & Bones, in 2000. The first disc, “Skull” was comprised of rap tracks while “Bones” explored further the group’s forays into rock. The album reached the Top 5 on the Billboard 200 and number 3 in Canada. The first single was “Rock Superstar” for rock radio and “Rap Superstar” for urban radio. The band also released Live at the Fillmore, a concert disc recorded at the Fillmore (in San Fransico) in 2000. Cypress Hill continued their experimentation with rock on the Stoned Raiders album in 2001. However, its sales were a disappointment, as the disc did not even reach the top 50 of the U.S. album charts. In 2001, the group appeared in the film How High.
Cypress Hill recorded “Just Another Victim” for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as a theme song for Tazz. At the time, WWE was using original music for almost all of the wrestlers, so this was an unusual step for the company to take, but it remains one of the more memorable songs to emerge from the wrestling organization. The band released Till Death Do Us Part on March 23, 2004. The album saw the band experiment with reggae especially on the lead single “What’s Your Number”. The track features Tim Armstrong of Rancid on guitar and Rob Aston of The Transplants on backup vocals. It is based on the classic song “Guns of Brixton” on The Clash’s London Calling and has proven to be a success on the modern rock charts. However, the album represented a further departure from the signature sound of their first four albums. The album also features appearances by Damian Marley, son of Bob Marley, Prodigy and Twin of Mobb Deep and producer the Alchemist.
In 2004, the song How I Could Just Kill A Man was included in the popular videogame Grand Theft Auto San Andreas created by Rockstar Games, playing on West Coast hip hop radio station Radio Los Santos. In December of 2005 a best of compilation album titled Greatest Hits From the Bong was released including 9 hits from previous albums and 2 new tracks. The group’s next album was tentatively scheduled for an early 2007 release. In the summer of 2006, B-Real appeared on Snoop Dogg’s single “Vato”. Pharrell Williams produced the track, and originally sang the hook, but because of the video idea, B-Real was asked to sing the hook. Sen Dog is now currently touring with the Kottonmouth Kings, Kingspade and Dogboy on the Joint is on Fire Tour
In 2007 Cypress Hill toured with their full line up as a part of the Rock the Bells tour, held by Guerilla Union, and headlined with Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and a reunited Rage Against the Machine. Other acts included Immortal Technique, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, EPMD, Pharoae Monch, Jedi Mind Tricks, Erykah Badu, MF Doom, Sage Francis, Brother Ali, The Coup, Blue Print, Lucky I Am, Living Legends, Felt, Cage, Mr. Lif, Grouch & Eligh, and Hangar 18.
Departure from Sony
Having fulfilled their contractual obligations with Sony Music, Cypress Hill will release an as-yet untitled album through a different record label in 2008.
It was announced that Cypress Hill will be members of the Kannabis Kartel along with the Kottonmouth Kings and Potluck. Their album will be released on Suburban Noize Records.
On July 25, 2008, Cypress Hill performed at a benefit concert at the House of Blues Chicago, where a majority of the proceeds went to the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness.
In August 2009, a new song by Cypress Hill, titled "Get 'Em Up", was made available on iTunes. The song is featured on the Madden NFL 2010 video game.
In November 2009, a new version of the Guns N' Roses classic "Paradise City" performed by Cypress Hill, Slash and Fergie was made available as a bonus track to Slash's single "Sahara" from Slash's solo album Slash.
Cypress Hill's eighth studio album Rise Up, features contributions from Everlast, Tom Morello, Daron Malakian, Pitbull, Marc Anthony and Mike Shinoda. The album was released on Priority Records/EMI Entertainment, as the group was signed to the label by new Creative Chairman Snoop Dogg on January 15, 2010. The album was released on April 20, 2010. The album's introduction single, "It Ain't Nothin'" was released as a free download from the group's official website. The song "Rise Up" was featured at WWE's pay-per-view, Elimination Chamber, as the official theme song for that event, and was released as the third single for the album, with "Armada Latina" being fourth. The song also appeared in the trailer of the movie The Green Hornet.
Cypress Hill commenced its Rise Up tour in Philadelphia on April 10, 2010. Julio G had replaced DJ Muggs for the tour. Muggs had been absent due to working on several other projects, including separate albums with B-Real and Sen Dog. The group was supposed to stop in Tucson, Arizona but canceled the show in protest of the recent immigration legislation. At the Rock en Seine festival in Paris on August 27, 2010 they said in an interview that they would wait and see what happens with the legislation before going back there. Cypress Hill performed at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2010, on August 28 at Leeds and August 29 at Reading.
On June 5, 2012, Cypress Hill and Dubstep artist Rusko released a collaborative EP entitled Cypress X Rusko. Also in 2012, Cypress Hill collaborated with Deadmau5 on his sixth studio album Album Title Goes Here, lending vocals on "Failbait"
Smokeout Music Festival is an annual Southern California single day event, held in San Bernardino, California. The festival was founded and is still hosted by the members of the hip hop group Cypress Hill (Senen Reyes-aka-Sen Dog, Lawrence Muggerud-aka-DJ Muggs and Louis Freese-aka-B-Real). The concert has an array music types, including but not excluded to, hip hop, electronic dance music, dubstep, and metalcore. Smokeout is pro-cannabis consumption and caters especially to medical marijuana patients. The first Smokeout was held in 1998, and the latest was on March 3, 2012. Smokeout 2012 was held in the NOS (National Orange Show) event center, and drew in a crowd of over 20,000 persons. On August 4, 2013, they performed the last concert of the tour at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
One of the band’s most striking aspects is B-Real’s exaggeratedly high-pitched nasal vocals, which fits and emphasizes the lyrics’ concentration on parodied gangster stories.
Sen Dog’s lyrics are progressively more violent and tend to involve fewer rhyme schemes compared with B-Real’s. In addition, as the style is today, some words are emphasized by adding a background voice to say them, however, Sen Dog’s emphases are always more prominent, mostly shouted alongside with the rapping.
The sound and groove of their music, produced by Muggs, is also notable for its influence and stoned aesthetic; with its bass-heavy rhythms and odd sample loops (“Insane in the Brain” is notable for having a horse neigh looped in its chorus), it carries a psychedelic value, which lessened in the later albums.
The band is also known for involving rock instruments in their songs. This has caused the band to sometimes be classified as a rapcore group. In IV, there is Lightning Strikes which doesn’t truly use electric guitars, but a synthesized version of it. Skull & Bones has an entire disc using such instruments, labeled Bones. As for their later works, their involvement in rock ended with the album Stoned Raiders (the tracks Trouble (also the first single of the album), Amplified and Catastrophe being the songs).
The band’s music is constantly subject to change; while the first album follows a more minimalistic and funky sound, Black Sunday, the successor, has a slightly darker side to it. III (Temples of Boom) and IV are mostly influenced by psychedelic music. The band abandoned that on Skull & Bones and got closer to the modern rap as it is today. Stoned Raiders has a more authentic sound than the rest, and Till Death Do Us Part carries reggae influences.
The band is also known to involve horns in their songs, and often have guitar and horns together in the instrumentals. What’s Your Number?, Trouble, Tequila Sunrise, and (Rock) Superstar have become some of the bands most popular songs featuring these elements. Cypress Hill’s experimenting in different genres of music even includes reggaeton in their track “Latin Thugs” which features Tego Calderon.
Some fans feel that the band has drifted somewhat from the values of their earlier albums. For example in “Strictly Hip Hop” from Temples of Boom, the band complain about hip hop artists who have an album of hardcore tracks but have one or two pop songs which just so happen to be the singles. Cypress have arguably fallen into this trap with the single “What’s You Number?”
The sound contribitions of DJ Muggs seems to be clearly influenced by marijuana consumption. Since one of the effects of a cannabis high is an altered audio sensual perception, the often slow paced and deep bass can be better appreciated. Furthermore, psychedelic sequences underly some parts of certain tracks such as “I Wanna Get High” for example. This is an interesting feature of their music, that had also been used before, especially during the 60’s and 70’s (e.g. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles).
photo credits include: upnorthtrips (tumblr), bsideshowdotnet, david redon images, esplanade hotel, high times magazine, industry insider magazine, jason li photography, jokerbranddotcom, rimes magazine, junk-science (tumblr), nass festival, psychooninja (tumblr), rap pages magazine, rap poster, the simpsons (fox television), the source magazine)