Cypress Hill arose in 1990s as one of the first Latin-American rappers to reach stardom. With stoner-enthusiast B-Real and Sen Dog as the front men and DJ Muggs providing the beats; the group released their fourth album 1998, ‘IV’.
Firstly; the album cover sets the mood of the album. The three skeletons impersonating the Three Monkeys indicates the general tone of the album. From the very first track “Looking Through The Eye of a Pig”, B-Real spits in his regular high-pitched, slow monotone flow about the how it would be too look through the eye of a policeman…The beat is slow and fits Real’s flow and pitch of voice perfectly. The second track, “Checkmate” is a fast-paced bass, piano and drum instrumental. We see Real doing a faster flow than normal, yet, still keeping himself entertaining to his fans. Another track that stands out on the tracklisting is the MC Eiht collaboration “Prelude To A Come Up”. Eiht leads the song with a slow but menacing verse and follows up with an equally aggressive verse of drug-dealing and asserting their weight on the Hip-Hop game at the time.
As well as including the always needed regular-sounding Hip-Hop tracks, Cypress Hill are also great at creating go-to smoke tunes. The first track that sticks out for its haziness is “Audio X”. Over a demonic guitar loop, B-Real spits some of his hardest bars and has one of the most exciting flows on this track. Sen Dog also provides a quick-paced flow over the jumpy but still ultimately chill record. “Tequila Sunrise” is another guitar-driven record and sees Barron Ricks opening the track, yet when B-Real comes in, he gets the attention again. However, it is DJ Muggs production and sampling on this record that really makes it.
One of the most interesting and captivating areas of Cypress Hill is B-Real and DJ Muggs ability to combine and create Hip-Hop beats laced heavily with Rock influence. Tracks such as “Riot Starter” is one of the first on the album to incorporate the sound. Real raps over a trippy-guitar loop and Jazzy drums with tongue-twisting verses and can’t stop you from bopping your head up and down. Another immediate ear-grabbing Rock-inspired record is the first of five features from Barron Ricks on “Steel Magnolia” which has a lo-fi siren and dreamy synth as a pallet to allow the two MC’s to go back and forth on the eerie instrumental.
Other tracks that stand out are “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, “16 Men Till There’s No Men Left”, the ridiculous alter-ego promotional single “Dr. Greenthumb” and another chilled-out tune “High Times”.
In all, it’s not one of my favourite albums, or anywhere near my top ten. Yet, there’s no doubt that Cypress Hill’s style has influenced many Hip-Hop artists such as Yelawolf, D12, Snoop Dogg and ScHoolBoy Q.