Interview: Cypress Hill

bill bodkin is up in smoke…

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“Who you tryin’ ta mess with ese? Don’t you know I’m loco?”

Yes, this is the opening to Cypress Hill’s classic hit “Insane In The Brain,” but it also is the perfect mission statement — the perfect summation of what the hip-hop trio of B-Real, Sen Dog and DJ Muggs have done for over 20 years.

They’ve dare to be a little “loco” collaborating and performing with artists from all genres and in turn infusing this disparate sounds into their blend of hip-hop. It’s what’s kept this unit from California both relevant and cutting edge — something many of their mid-’90s contemporaries cannot even attempt to claim.

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There most recent musical undertaking, however, might be what some consider their most “loco” to date — infusing dubstep into their sound.

Yes, the white-hot musical sub-genre of the moment has become part of Cypress Hill’s musical catalog. The group recently collaborated with UK “wub” maestro Rusko, on a five-song EP simply dubbed Cypress Hill x Rusko.

The idea of working in the dubstep genre came through Jason Evans, a DJ who had worked remixing Cypress Hill songs in the past. While on the group’s BRealTV, Evans posed the question of the group working with dubstep, but surprisingly, B Real had no dubstep in his music catalog.

“I told him [Evans] to send me some songs,” B Real recalled. “He sent me artists like Benga, Caspa, Kaskade, Skrillex … a lot of really great stuff, but Rusko really stood out. I knew I’d love to collaborate with him. I wanted something produced that was raw and gritty. I had a friend who knew his people. He hooked us up and I had a good vibe from the first hang out. We hung, we smoked, it was a good vibe. Then one song begat two then the next thing it was four to five songs.”

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Production went into high gear after the initial smoke-out/hang-out, and for BReal and the rest of the group, the production of a dubstep song was a bit different from producing a hip hop track. According to B Real the group put their complete trust in Rusko in producing the EP. One of the most intricate part of the dubstep recording process that seemed to intrigue B Real was how a lyric he and the group wrote intended to be part of a verse could end up being taken and made into the chorus.

When the finished product was delivered to them, the group couldn’t be happier.

“I was surprised,” B Real said. “I knew I would like because of the sound foundation … but everything he added, we hadn’t heard it. We gave him ideas, but he went into the lab and he blew us away. Our style is very different with Muggs. He’s very hip-hop based, it’s very intricate. But he had our formula down.”

Indeed, B Real is right. The result of Rusko’s work is a dubstep record that stands out amongst the vast array of EDM EPs out there. While it maintains the electronic goodness dubstep fanatics crave, it also has a raw, gritty and muscular feel that only the street cred and lyrical chops only Cypress Hill can bring to the table.

So will dubstep be in the future of Cypress Hill outside this EP?

“It depends,” B Real said. “We plan to go into the studio with Muggs. What vibe Muggs is one we follow. He drives the ship. It’s not impossible [to have dubstep on the new record].”

When we spoke with B Real the group was embarking on a nationwide tour, featuring a new heavy-hitter of hip-hop Action Bronson. So we had one question for him: “Does Cypress Hill ever get tired of performing their hit, ‘Insane In The Brain?’

“I often hear artists say their sick of their big song,” B Real explained. “For me, I never get tired of it. It gives [the crowd] a certain feeling — it excites, it’s nostalgic. People still react to it, so for me it never gets tired. It’s a special connection for people. I’m always appreciative of the excitement. We’ve played it probably 1000 times, but we never get tired of it.”

And while the group takes the holiday season to regroup and enjoy time with their families, they are gearing up for another “loco” year as they’ll be heading to Australia for The Soundwave Festival in February and early March, then the Caprice Festival in Switzerland and then a massive 4/20 show at the famed Red Rocks in Colorado with Slightly Stoopid.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites