As a kid Lawrence Muggerud moved from Queens, NY to Los Angeles to live with his mother. Although he was born and raised in the hip-hop Mecca, ironically it wasn’t until he moved out west that he got his first turntables and started deejaying. It wouldn’t be long before Lawrence would take on the moniker DJ Muggs, linked up with a couple of inspiring Latino rappers from his block (Louis “B-Real” Freese and Senen “Sen Dog” Reyes) and formed Cypress Hill (named after the block they lived on Cypress Ave).
Led by Muggs’ dusty production and B-Real’s nasal vocal the hardcore-weed-smoking-gun-toting Latin trio inked a deal with Columbia/Ruffhouse and took the world by storm in 1991 with their mammoth hit “How I Can Just Kill A Man” (more on that later). Their self-title debut Cypress Hill received pounds of praise and would go on to move more than two million units. The Source would even go on to rank it as one of the 100 greatest hip-hip songs of all time.
If you read my blog with any regularity you know me and The Source don’t always agree. Let’s give her spin, shall we.
Random trivia fact: Sen Dog is the older brother to Latin emcee pioneer Mellow Man Ace. Remember him?
Pigs – Over a drunken Muggs’ instrumental B-Real sends a (not so) kind shoutout to all the crooked coppers out their (“How bout a ham sandwich?”). Kind of a weird way to introduce yourself to the world, but it was enjoyable.
How I Could Just Kill A Man – This was originally a b side to “The Phuncky Feel One” single but it wound up being the biggest record on the album and arguably in the entire Cypress Hill catalog. Muggs’ dark and rough instrumental has an uncomfortable feel to it, making for the perfect backdrop for B-Real’s cold and precise rhymes. So many emcees have snagged sound bites from B-Real’s rhymes on this one its hard to remember them all. Classic record.
Hand On The Pump – This might be my favorite Cypress Hill song of all time. Muggs’ instrumental manages to sound serious, rough, dark and epic all at the same time as he slices up the classic Gene Chandler record “Duke of Earl”. The song has one of the sickest bass line I’ve ever heard. B-Real shares mic duties with Sen Dog and they’re both in straight gangsta mode. Back to back certified classics.
Hole In The Head – More murder raps from B-Real as Sen Dog cosigns with adlibs. Never been a big fan of this one, mostly because Mugg’s instrumental is barely decent compared to the stellarness of the first three records.
Ultraviolet Dreams – Short interlude about smoking…
Light Another – That leads into this B-Real ode to smoking weed. Mugg’s instrumental which borrows from Kool & The Gang’s “Good Times” record, gets thing back on track. This one works, but I would like to hear how this one sounds remastered as their are a lot of pieces that could be brought out with current technology.
The Phuncky Feel One – This was the first single released off of Cypress Hill. Muggs provides a sick dusty boom-bap instrumental for B-Real and Sen to “talk their shit” over. A solid record that was unfortunately overshadowed by the monster record “How I Can Just Kill A Man”.
Break It Up – Brief instrumental that serves as an intermission so you can take your potty break before the second half of the show starts.
Real Estate – This was the third and final single released from the album. Technically, the song is decent, but for some reason I’ve never really cared for this one. Maybe it’s because the instrumental sounds like it’s trying to ape “How I Could Just Kill A Man”.
Stoned Is The Way of The Walk – More weed talk from B-Real. Muggs’ borrows from the same Grant Green record that Tribe would use on their “Vibes and Stuff” joint later the same year. Muggs interpretation is cool but I’ll take Tribe’s mix any day. I’m bias, so I understand if you don’t agree.
Psycobetabuckdown – This one didn’t work for me at all.
Something For The Blunted – An interlude dedicated to their blunted brethren.
Latin Lingo – B-Real and Sen-Dog switch roles as Sen spits all three verses in spanglish and B-Real is assigned hook duties. According to a quote from B-Real, Sen was the main emcee in the group’s early days. Sen’s cool on the mic and Mugg’s instrumental is enjoyable enough, but this isn’t one of the strongest songs on Cypress Hill.
The Funky Cypress Hill Shit – Decent. Mugg’s instrumental sounds like it’s trying to ape “The Phuncky Feel One”, though.
Tres Equis – Over a blunted Mugg’s instrumental Sen spits one verse completely in Spanish before he vanishes into thin air with the song and his weed smoke.
Born To Get Busy – Sen Dog spits one quick verse over a Mugg’s instrumental that samples some funky guitar licks (BDP would later use the same sample on their “Sex & Violence” record). After a brief moment of silence the “Stoned Is The Way of The Walk” instrumental along with the hook comes on with what sounds like a PSA about the effects of marijuana, mixed with sound effects of someone inhaling. Weird way to end things, but its a wrap.
Cypress Hill reminds me of Kate Upton’s body: Top heavy and bangin’ then things get a little weird towards the middle and you lose interest by the time you get to the end. If Cypress would have shut things down after “The Phuncky Feel One” Cypress Hill would have made for a nearly flawless EP. As is, its monster singles are larger than the sum deceiving historians into believing that the album is as good as the legend.