Cypress Hill is an American hip hop group from South Gate, California. Cypress Hill was the first Latino-American hip hop group to have platinum and multi-platinum albums, selling over 18 million albums worldwide. They are one of the most well-known groups in West Coast rap and Hip hop in general and are critically acclaimed for their first two groundbreaking albums.
Senen Reyes (also known as Sen Dog) and Ulpiano Sergio Reyes (also known as Mellow Man Ace) are brothers who initially lived in South Gate, California. In 1971, their family had immigrated to the United States from Cuba. In 1988, the two brothers teamed up with Lawrence Muggerud (also known as DJ Muggs) and Louis Freese (also known as B-Real) to form a hip-hop group named DVX (Devastating Vocal Excellence). The band soon lost Mellow Man Ace to a solo career, and changed their name to Cypress Hill, after a street in South Gate.
Early works and mainstream success (1989–1995)
After recording a demo in 1989, Cypress Hill signed a record deal with the major label, Columbia Records. Their self-titled first album was released in August 1991. The lead single was the double A-side "The Phuncky Feel One"/"How I Could Just Kill a Man" which received heavy airplay on urban and college radio. The other two singles released from the album were "Hand on the Pump" and "Latin Lingo", the latter of which combined English and Spanish lyrics. The success of these singles led to the album selling two million copies in the US alone. The group 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 in the charts, they became the first rap group 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.
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, teaming up with Pearl Jam on the track "Real Thing" and Sonic Youth on "I Love You Mary Jane".
The group later played at Woodstock 94, introducing new member Eric Bobo, son of Willie Bobo and formerly a percussionist with the Beastie Boys. Rolling Stone magazine named the group 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 also appeared on the "Homerpalooza" episode of The Simpsons. Prior to Bobo joining the crew, Panchito "Ponch" Gomez sat in as a percussionist when not acting.
Their third album 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.
Continued career (1996–2002)
Sen Dog took a break from the band to form a Los Angeles based rap rock 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 Soul Assassins: Chapter 1 featuring contributions from 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" from Dr. Dre's Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath album, and contributed to an album entitled The Psycho Realm with the band of the same name. Though the focus that year was not on group efforts, the band played Smokin' Grooves with George Clinton and Erykah Badu.
Cypress Hill released IV in 1998 which went gold in the US, on the backs of hit singles "Tequila Sunrise" and "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 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. In 2000, Cypress Hill then fused genres with their fifth album, Skull & Bones, which was a two-disc album. The first disc, "Skull" was composed 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. Following the release of the album, Cypress Hill (along with MxPx) landed a slot opening for The Offspring on the Conspiracy of One tour. The band also released Live at the Fillmore, a concert disc recorded at the Fillmore (in San Francisco) 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 US album charts. In 2001, the group appeared in the film How High.
Till Death Do Us Part (2003–2007)
Cypress Hill recorded "Just Another Victim" for WWE as a theme song for Tazz. At the time, WWE was using original music for almost all of the wrestlers. 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 backup vocals. It is based on the classic song "The 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 of Mobb Deep and producers the Alchemist and Fredwreck.
In 2004, the song "How I Could Just Kill A Man" was included in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas created by Rockstar Games, playing on West Coast hip hop radio station Radio Los Santos. In December 2005 a best of compilation album titled Greatest Hits From the Bong was released including nine hits from previous albums and two 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", which was produced by Pharrell Williams.
In 2007 Cypress Hill toured with their full line up as a part of the Rock the Bells tour, held by Guerilla Union, B Simm, 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, Pharoahe 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, Slightly Stoopid, and Hangar 18.
Departure from Sony and Rise Up (2008–present)
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".
One of the band's most striking aspects is B-Real's exaggeratedly high-pitched nasal vocals. In the book Check the Technique B-Real describes his nasal style, saying his rapping voice is "high and annoying... the nasal style I have was just something that I developed... my more natural style wasn't so pleasing to [DJ Muggs and Sen Dog's] ears" and talking about the nasal style in the book How to Rap, B-Real says, "you want to stand out from the others and just be distinct... when you got something that can separate you from everybody else, you gotta use it to your advantage." In the film Art of Rap, B-Real credits the Beastie Boys as an influence when developing his rapping style. Sen Dog's voice is deeper, more violent and often shouted alongside the rapping; his vocals are often emphasized by adding an additional background/choir voice to say them. Sen Dog's style is in contrast to B-Real's, who says, "[Sen's] voice is so strong", and "it all blends together" when they are both on the same track.
Both B-Real and Sen Dog started writing lyrics in both Spanish and English and B-Real was inspired to start writing raps from watching Sen Dog and Mellow Man Ace writing their lyrics, and originally B-Real was going to just be the writer for the group rather than a rapper. Their lyrics are noted for bringing a "cartoonish" approach to violence by Peter Shapiro and Allmusic.
The sound and groove of their music, produced by Muggs, is notable for its spooky sounds and stoned aesthetic; with its bass-heavy rhythms and odd sample loops ("Insane in the Brain" is notable for having a pitched-altered 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 rap rock group. The double album Skull & Bones consists of a pure rap album ("Skull") and an entire CD of rap/rock songs ("Bones"). Also in IV, there is "Lightning Strikes" which doesn't truly use electric guitars, but a synthesized version of it. In the live album Live at The Fillmore some of the old classics are played in a rock/metal version, with Sen Dog's band SX-10 and Eric Bobo playing the rock instrument.
The band's music is constantly subject to change: while the first album and Black Sunday follow a more minimalistic and funky sound, III (Temples of Boom) has a very dark, spooky atmosphere and heavy beats, sometimes approaching hardcore rap. IV introduced more diverse sounds on the beats while maintaining the hardcore edge. The first albums are mostly influenced by psychedelic music, but the band eventually got closer to modern rap as it is today while still experimenting with rock from time to time, like on "Skull and Bones" and "Stoned Raiders".
The band involves 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 band's most popular songs featuring these elements.
Side and solo projects
Eric Bobo is part of the group Sol Invicto with producer Richie Londres and Stephen Carpenter of the Deftones. Eric Bobo is also a main member of Cultura Londres Proyecto which is a Spanish Hip Hop group from London, England. In 2008, he released his first solo album "Meeting Of The Minds" on Nacional Records. In 2011, he joined up with Chilean DJ Latin Bitman to form the group Ritmo Machine & in November 2011 they released the album "Welcome To The Ritmo Machine" on Nacional Records with special guests Sick Jacken (Psycho Realm), Ana Tijoux, Sen-Dog, Mix Master Mike (Beastie Boys), P-Nut (311), Pato Machete & Chali 2na (Jurassic 5).
2009 saw the releases of both B-Real and Sen Dog's solo efforts Smoke N Mirrors and Diary of a Mad Dog. B-Real is also part of a super-group called Serial Killaz with both Xzibit and his protégé Young De. B-Real started his own production company called Audio Hustlaz, with which he has worked and featured on tracks with Kurupt, Young De, Xzibit, Adil Omar, Snoop Dogg, Bitza and others, and has also done guest appearances for La Coka Nostra, Ill Bill, Prozak, Akrobatik, The Outlawz, Nipsey Hussle and Apathy.
Other notable side projects include B-Real's rap metal group Kush with members from Deftones and Fear Factory who are as yet to release any official material. Sen Dog has released one album with his rap metal group SX-10. Muggs has released collaborative albums with Sick Jacken, GZA, Planet Asia, Ill Bill and others.
Smokeout Music Festival
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