With Black Sunday, Cypress Hill Brought The Influence Of Latinos In Hip-Hop To The Masses (Video)
In 1993, California was the epicenter of Hip-Hop. Artists such as Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre were the faces of West Coast Gangsta Rap boom, which was winning in the mainstream. Plus, Cali’s prominent street gang culture and urban lifestyle had an emerging presence in Hollywood with Hip-Hop-centric films such as Poetic Justice, South Central, Menace II Society, and the Academy Award-nominated Boyz N The Hood.
Cypress Hill was another seminal group who spearheaded Gangsta Rap’s tour de force up the charts. The Los Angeles-based squad comprised of producer/mixmaster DJ Muggs, lead lyricist B-Real, and hype-man/MC Sen Dog (along with percussionist Eric Bobo) offered a different perspective influenced by psychedelia and their insouciant approach to life. After head-ways by Kid Frost, (Sen Dog’s older brother) Mellow Man Ace, and others, the Hill upped the ante for the oft-overlooked Latino contributions in Hip-Hop culture, while they appealed to skateboarders, stoners, and gangstas. In a new direction from their 1991 self-titled platinum-selling debut, Cypress had their mainstream breakthrough with their sophomore album Black Sunday.
The album was released on July 20, 1993, and stayed in their formulaic production of 1960s Rock and 1970s Funk samples with hard snares and thunderous basslines. But the album’s lead single “Insane In The Brain,” and other tracks like “Hits From The Bong,” “I Wanna Get High,” and “When The Sh*t Goes Down” evoked a sense of feel-good Pop and B-boy bravado to listeners.
Crews such as Wu-Tang Clan, Tha Dogg Pound, The Pharcyde, and The Click had begun to make their mark with their off-shoot acts and trademark soundscapes that echoed West Coast Funk and East Coast boom-bap. On Black Sunday, Cypress Hill’s was leading the pack with their Soul Assassins crew associates consisting of breakout acts House Of Pain and Funkdoobiest. With B-Real’s menacing nasal sneer and Sen Dog’s chest-beating gruff ad-libs, Cypress Hill never left their roughneck L.A. origins and trigger-happy nature over ominous beats on “We Ain’t Goin Out Like That,” “A To The K,” and “Cock The Hammer.”
In an era when MTV and BET were king-makers, Cypress Hill was among Rap’s most heavily rotated acts on the channels as Pop and the urban audience’s hottest acts riding atop Gangsta Rap’s Trojan Horse. Before long, they were chilling on The Simpsons in America’s living-room—all while staying true to their formula.
After 25 years and eight studio albums, Cypress Hill is still going strong touring the world. They are pioneers of the Rap festival industry with their Smokin Grooves Tour and Smoke Out Festival. With Muggs back behind the boards, the Hill is currently preparing for their eighth album, Elephants On Acid. Still, at 25, Black Sunday remains a gem in their catalog opus that put them in Rap’s pantheon.
#BonusBeat: The samples DJ Muggs used for Black Sunday: