Members // Real Name // D.O.B.:
B Real // Louis Freese // June 2nd, 1970, South Gate Los Angeles, CA
Sen Dog // Senen Reyes // November 20th, 1965 Havana, Cuba
DJ Muggs // Lawrence Muggerud // January 28th, 1968 Queens, New York
Eric Bobo // Eric Correa // August 27th, 1968 Los Angeles, California
Cypress Hill is a Los Angeles-based multicultural Latin American rap group from South Gate, California. Their consistent advocacy around the legalization of cannabis consumption has contributed to their popularity. Cypress Hill was the first Latin rap group to have platinum and multi-platinum albums and are history’s best selling Latin rap group. The band was originally called DVX, but the name was changed after Mellow Man Ace left in 1988.
The Early career
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 House of Pain’s first 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 début 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. 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.
Post Sony Era
Having fulfilled their contractual obligations with Sony Music, Cypress Hill will release an as-yet untitled album through a different record label in 2008. Recently, 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. 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 emphasised 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 rap-metal 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 Bones CD using such instruments. 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. The sound contributions 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).
The lyrics of tracks like “How I Could Just Kill A Man” offer an insight into the cultural expression of social stratification in L.A. at that point in history. Many other songs have cited topics such as police brutality, racial profiling, gang violence and anecdotes about invasion of privacy by police. Furthermore the celebration of marijuana consumption is what they are often associated with in songs like “I Wanna Get High”, “Stoned Is The Way Of The Walk” or “Hits From The Bong”, the themes of recreational use of marijuana is prevalent. Many of their songs also protest the current marijuana laws and voice their opinions on the hypocrisy of drug enforcement institutions. Their lyrics often reflect the hip hop culture of Los Angeles in their earlier work such as their self-titled album and Black Sunday, which were very influential not only to Latino hip hop of the time but to many other hip hop groups around the world as well. Through out their career they have commonly incorporated Spanish into their lyrics as well as slang used by some Latinos in Los Angeles on songs like “Latin Lingo”. Their album “Los Grandes Exitos En Espanol” features Spanish translations of many of their hit songs.
- 1991 Cypress Hill (Chart position: #4) RIAA certification: 4x Platinum
- 1993 Black Sunday (Chart position: #1) RIAA certification: 4x Platinum
- 1995 III: Temples of Boom (Chart positions: #3) RIAA certification: 2x Platinum
- 1996 Unreleased and Revamped (Chart position: #15) RIAA certification: Gold
- 1998 IV (Chart positions: #11) RIAA certification: Gold
- 1999 Los grandes éxitos en español (Chart positions: #6) RIAA certification: Gold
- 2000 Skull & Bones (Chart positions: #3) RIAA certification: 3x Platinum
- 2000 Live at the Fillmore (Chart positions: #78)
- 2001 Stoned Raiders (Chart positions: #26) RIAA certification: Gold
- 2002 Stash
- 2004 Till Death Do Us Part (Chart positions: #23) RIAA certification: Gold
- 2005 Greatest Hits From the Bong (Chart positions: #14)