Cypress Hill

Cypress Hill

Ruffhouse / Columbia Records, 1991

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Back in 1991, I was still learning a lot about rap music, though I enjoyed it very much (and still do). I still remember the first time I heard Cypress Hill: it was on a sampler that Sony Music had sent me. I had plowed through the tape up to that point, when "Pigs" kicked in. Its interesting choice of samples, the delivery from B-Real, Sen Dog and D.J. Muggs (complete with a nasal, sneering delivery of the vocals) and an overall sense of humor (even though the subject was a bit dark) was enough to convince me to drop the 10 dollars on their debut album.

Seven years later, their self-titled debut album is as politically incorrect and enjoyable as ever. While you might cringe at lyrics glorifying violence and marajuana use, Cypress Hill does break some new ground in rap music for their originality (not to mention the occasional raps in Spanish).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Pigs," a song slamming the police (and, if you listen closely, declaring one cop to be cool to the rappers), is not as controversial as Body Count's "Cop Killer" was, but I detected a sarcastic edge to the song that almost added a humorous aspect to the song. It's almost as if they weren't serious about what they were saying.

The same can't be said about their glorification of marajuana, especially on tracks like "Light Another" and "Stoned Is The Way Of The Walk". You know some parents groups are eventually going to claim that songs like these make their kids want to smoke dope. Sorry, Granny, but if Junior is that impressionable that a record is going to tell him what to do with his life, hold him back a few years in school... or better yet, let natural selection take its course and let the herd thin itself out.

Ahem, excuse me... don't know what got into me there...

Anyway, Cypress Hill does have your traditional leanings toward gangsta rap ("Hand On The Pump" and "Hole In The Head"), but for the most part, this is rap music that glorifies getting stoned and having a good time. (Well, one out of two ain't bad.) The fact is, once you get past the messages, this is simply fun music to listen to, and B-Real and Sen Dog know how to create a verbal rhyme that dances on your eardrums. Don't agree with the message behind the song? Simple: don't listen to it.

This album turned out to be a stepping stone for Cypress Hill (who would get their first chart-topping album and hit single with their follow-up release) as well as a high-water mark they would have a tough time bettering. (The repetition of ideas on the follow-up release Black Sunday emphasizes this.)

Critics of rap music will poop all over this album (which, unlike some rap acts, doesn't seem to belittle women, and keeps the sex talk to a minimum). Damn the critics, I say, and fire up (oops, forget I said that) Cypress Hill a few times in the tape deck. This album proved that this threesome was onto something.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B+



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ruffhouse / Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.