It took Cypress Hill six albums and more than a dozen years to get back to their roots.
The title of B-Real, Sen Dog, and DJ Muggs' seventh and latest album, Till Death Do Us Part, released Tuesday, is a testament to the group's longevity, while its songs highlight the foundation upon which their 15-year-long career has been built.
"We kind of just let it flow," B-Real said. "We didn't really think about any sort of direction. If anything, we wanted to capture the essence of what the group is, and that's the hip-hop side of who we are. That's what got us into this; that was the one thing on our mind. Everything else just fell into place."
Rather than furthering the inroads into hard rock and heavy metal hybrids they paved on their last two studio albums, 2000's Skull & Bones and 2001's Stoned Raiders, Cypress Hill fully embrace their hip-hop roots on the dark, gangsta raps "Another Body Drops," "Street Wars" and "Money," while "Till Death Comes" and "Never Knows" are ruminations on thug life. As its title hints, "Latin Thugs" honors their ethnic background with a horn loop, peppy percussion, lyrics spit in Spanish, and a guest appearance by Latino MC Tego Calderón. "That track is obviously for the Latin cats out there who've been representing and putting it down for us for the longest," B-Real said.
But most prominently, Cypress Hill's proclivity for a particular plant is represented by the reggae and dancehall vibes woven through songs like "Ganja Bus," which features an appearance by Damian Marley (yes, one of Bob's sons), "Bong Hit," and the album's first single, "What Is Your Number?," which lifts a riff from reggae-flavored punk pioneers the Clash's "Guns of Brixton."
"We're always trying to evolve and make the sound grow," B-Real explained. "And [reggae] is one thing that we never touched on, which has been a big influence on us. So it made sense to put a reggae vibe behind [the album]. I don't think people were expecting something like that" (see "Cypress Hill Tap Into Reggae For New LP — What Took Them So Long?").
Fans of the Beastie Boys, especially, will be perplexed by "Busted in the Hood," a track that takes the Boys' 1986 classic "Paul Revere," adds a pinch of bouncy reggae flavor, and alters the lyrics into a story about a drug dealer caught by the cops, rather than a tale of rhymin' and stealin' in the old West.
"It's our story told to their style," B-Real said. " 'Paul Revere' was big in pretty much all the neighborhoods in Los Angeles, as far as ganstas go. The gangstas took that song and came up with their own sh--. It took me back to those days when I was out in the street with those guys listening to that song."
While Till Death Do Us Part refers to the core trio, the album boasts several guests. Besides Calderón and Marley, "What's Your Number?" features an appearance by Rancid's Tim Armstrong, and "Last Laugh" finds rapper Twin and Mobb Deep's Prodigy lending a hand. "Whenever I walked into the studio, Muggs had a different collaboration going," B-Real said.
Cypress Hill kick off a four-week tour with Blink-182 April 29, after which B-Real said the group may take off for Europe. And in between working on his much-talked about side project Kush, with members of Fear Factory and Deftones (see "B-Real Finishing Up Kush LP, Going Grimmer For Next Cypress Hill Album"), he can be found splattering his rivals with paintballs on a team, the Stoned Assassins, he formed with Everlast (see "Everlast Battles Will Smith, Takes Out White Trash"). Still, further collaborations are not out of the question.
"I'd like to work with Busta [Rhymes]," B-Real said. "He's always been someone that I wanted to work with because our voices are so different. He's always been one of my good friends. Maybe Eminem, Jay-Z ... I like Jay-Z a lot. I hope that if he [actually retires from music] that he's happy and fulfilled with what he wants to do with his career. But at the same time, as a fan, I definitely would like him to keep making hot records."
Cypress Hill tour dates, according to Columbia Records:
- 4/25 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox
- 4/29 - Nampa, ID @ Idaho Center
- 4/30 - West Valley City, UT @ E Center
- 5/1 - Englewood, CO @ Coors Amphitheatre
- 5/3 - Dallas, TX @ Smirnoff Music Centre
- 5/4 - Selma, TX @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
- 5/5 - The Woodlands, TX @ C.W. Mitchell Pavilion
- 5/7 - Atlanta, GA @ HiFi Buys Amphitheatre
- 5/8 - Orlando, FL @ TD Waterhouse Centre
- 5/9 - West Palm Beach, FL @ Sound Advice Amphitheatre
- 5/11 - Charlotte, NC @ Verizon Wireless Amp. Charlotte
- 5/12 - Raleigh, NC @ Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek
- 5/14 - Columbus, OH @ Germain Amphitheater
- 5/15 - Maryland Heights, MO @ UMB Bank Pavilion
- 5/16 - Bonner Springs, KS @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
- 5/18 - Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center