Cypress Hill Find Fame Again, Ironically

Hip-hop group questions — and achieves — success with hip-hop and rock versions of 'Superstar.'

NEW YORK

COLOR=#003163">Cypress Hill find

themselves staring at success again, with "Superstar"

— a single that warns against the trappings of

success.

"When you first come out and you're really hot, the world

really expects you to be supernatural, and everything you

do has to be like the ultimate bomb," Cypress Hill rapper

Sen Dog

(born Senen Reyes) said recently. "We've never forsaken

our style for the money or the position in the music."

With some high-profile help, including

COLOR=#003163">Eminem and

COLOR=#003163">Everlast, the group

makes its case on both hip-hop and rock versions of

"Superstar," from Cypress Hill's sixth album, Skull &

Bones. Released Feb. 29, the single quickly found its

way onto both rock and hip-hop radio.

"We've played Cypress in the past, so it wasn't that much

of a stretch to begin with," said Lisa Worthen, music director

of L.A.'s KROQ-FM.

The music, though, is a stretch for Cypress Hill themselves.

Eminem and

COLOR=#003163">Noreaga provide

testimonials on "(Rap) Superstar," while Everlast and

Chino Moreno

of the

COLOR=#003163">Deftones, offer their

advice on "(Rock) Superstar." The versions begin

identically, with a dramatic combination of chimes and

strings. But the rock version launches its assault halfway

through, with a snarling, thrashing punk arrangement.

On the chorus of each, Cypress Hill's MC

COLOR=#003163">B-Real (born Louis

Freese) rhymes, "So you wanna be a rap superstar/ And

live large/ Big house/ Five cars/ You're in charge/ Coming

up in the world/ Don't trust nobody/ Gotta look over you

shoulder constantly."

"People just don't see how much work is really involved in

this rap shit," Eminem, last year's breakthrough rapper,

intones on the rap version.

On the rock version, former

COLOR=#003163">House of Pain rapper

Everlast says, "It's a fun job, but it's still a job." Everlast had

crossover success in 1998, with the folk-rock single "What

It's Like."

The positive response to "Superstar" prompted Columbia

Records to move the release of Skull & Bones up a

week, to April 25. It also prompted the group's spin through

New York, where it hit local radio stations and met with

reporters at its management's Greenwich Village office.

"People seem to be a little excited about it, so we're

happy," said B-Real, as a tattoo artist worked to improve a

tattoo on his right arm that depicts a marijuana leaf with the

band's name around it.

Cypress Hill talks from experience on the single. Its first two

albums, Cypress Hill (1991) and Black Sunday

(1993) thrust the group into the pop limelight, showcasing

their affinity for marijuana and gunplay, B-Real's nasal, Latin

delivery and DJ

Muggs' edgy, psychedelic production.

Black Sunday went double platinum.

Sales of their next two albums, Cypress Hill III (Temple

of Boom) (1995) and Cypress Hill IV (1998)

trailed off, and the group's profile diminished.

"(Rock) Superstar" is included on the new album as part of

the "Bones Disc," a sequence of six rock songs that close

the record. Several of those feature

COLOR=#003163">Fear Factory bassist

Christian Olde

Wolbers and guitarist

COLOR=#003163">Dino Cazares, with

Rage Against the

Machine drummer

COLOR=#003163">Brad Wilk.

The group recorded the rock songs during a December

layover that followed the release of their Spanish-language

record, Los Grandes Éxitos en

Éspañol.

B-Real said the rock collaborations and Muggs' use of live

instrumentation on the hip-hop tracks signal a new direction

for the group.

"It's not something you just leave in the dust after doing it.

We like doing it, too. I think it's going to be something

continuing on for us," he said.